Did you tune in on Sunday evening in the aftermath of Arsenal’s 2-1 victory at Anfield, to see which sportsman would be awarded the BBC Television Sports Personality of the Year Award? You did? Good for you.
I didn’t because as soon as I’d heard in the betting that Ryan Giggs had been backed in from rank outsider to odds on favourite, it was as foregone a conclusion as Sir Alex complaining about the referee after a defeat, or Rafa Benitez inventing some lame excuse as to why Liverpool couldn’t win an argument these days.
I’m not knocking Ryan Giggs or Manchester United here in as much as, his achievements in the game speak volumes about the man (If you want to see just how highly I rate Giggs’ achievements, check this article out). Certainly he deserves every credit for what he has achieved, but I am baffled how he can be judged the PFA Footballer of the Year and the Sports Personality of this year. Over the past two seasons he has started 21 league games in total (counting from August 2008). That is out of a possible 54 league games. (38 last season, 16 this).
I’m sorry but this smacks to me of some ghastly plot by Manchester United fans, members of the Ryan Giggs fan club, the Plaid Cymru Mafioso or the Welsh football illuminati, whoever, who have arbitrarily decided that Giggs hasn’t got the credit he deserves throughout his career (A point I would agree with) and as such Giggs winning the PFA award and the Sports Personality of the Year is an attempt to redress the balance and highlight his staggeringly successful career (which I don’t agree with).
I’m sorry but it is frankly comical to suggest that Giggs performances for Manchester United in 2009 are even comparable to the likes of Mark Cavendish, Jessica Ennis or Jensen Button. There are players in the Premier League far more deserving of both individual awards he has received and it cannot be doubted that Giggs has had far better individual seasons in the past. Where is this nonsense going to end? Was he just pipped by Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace prize? Should his autobiography automatically win the Booker? Shall we get The Holy See to sanctify him so we can all worship at the altar of St Ryan?
I’d certainly and wholeheartedly support an award or some special form of recognition for Giggs’ achievements in football. He does deserve that considering what he has achieved over a fantastic career. It would have been a fitting tribute for someone who has brought joy to many over the past 15 years or more. However to suggest that his individual performances over the past 12 months represent the pinnacle of British sport, makes a mockery of the event and demeans the efforts of those sportsmen and women who have achieved great individual feats during 2009. Just as the PFA award did when Giggs was awarded that this year.
Almost as insidious as the awards themselves is the staggering lack of opposition to it from the press who seem either afraid to rock the boat by stating that perhaps, Jensen Button, Jessica Ennis, Mark Cavendish or any of the other finalists might, perhaps, just perhaps, have deserved a little better.
Also the name of the award just conjures up the wrong image. Personality? Giggs promotes the personality of a bucket of wet cement in the media. It may well be a false image to those who know him closely, but that is how he is perceived by many. By all means call him a sports star, a sporting legend, I’m fine with that. Personality? It’s just a politically correct BBC word because they don’t want to state Sportsman or Sportswoman and Sportsperson sounds awkward and a little impersonal. So they call it “personality”. Oh yes, the wonderfully gregarious past list of winners would make a dinner party consisting solely of trappist monks, estate agents and politicians entirely preferable.
Ryan got a sympathy vote this year and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. His achievements deserved to be recognised without the need for fans or players to rally round to ensure that he gets enough votes to achieve that. For the simple reason, Ryan Giggs does not need skewed votes in order to have his achievements publicly recognised. He deserves far better than that, as do the sportsmen and women who potentially missed out on the 2009 trophy because of it.
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