Andy Murray wins: The BBC Sports Personality Award is really nothing to do with likeability - and that's the way it should be

The most extraordinary moments in any sporting career are simply beyond words

Share
Related Topics

Andy Murray inadvertently exposed one of the shortcomings of BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award when he received his trophy, via a video link, by a hotel pool in Miami. He apologised, not for the first time, for the monotone sound of voice, saying that this should not obscure the fact that he was really, really excited about the award, even though it must have been as little of a surprise to him as it was to the rest of the nation.

For becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, Murray was a shoo-in to take the prize (Sir Bradley Wiggins could barely contain his insouciance when he announced the result). But Murray's post-coronation comment just confirmed what we've known all along: this is an award for achievement not personality. No one could argue that this has been Murray's year, the culmination of a lifetime of dedication that led him to the pinnacle of his sport.

So who cares what he sounds like when he wins Wimbledon? Well, we do, actually. One aspect of the Sports Personality of the Year show that comes through very clearly is how much importance we now attach to what our sports heroes feel rather than simply what they do. This is only to be expected, as we have become a much more confessional society, but I remember when this end-of-year beano was made up largely of sporting highlights from the big events of the previous 12 months.

This time round, for the 60th edition of the programme, there was relatively little action, but an awful lot of talk. So, for example, Sir Ben Ainslie was asked to give us an insight into how he was able to inspire glorious victory in the America's Cup from the most unpromising of situations. Ainslie was articulate and open, but at the end of his allotted time on stage, we non-sailors were really no wiser.

This type of encounter is merely an extension of one of the most egregious developments in televised sport: the interview which takes place the minute a big event is over. It's bad enough that a sportsman and woman has to deal with the emotional release that major triumph brings, he or she now has to face Sue Barker or Clare Balding thrusting a microphone their way before they have had a chance to gather the thoughts, and the watching nation expects a coherent comment on what had just occurred.

I'm not saying that sports performers should be seen and not heard, but that we need something of a recalibration. The very nature of sport at the highest level is that some things are impossible to explain, and it's unreasonable to expect someone who has God-given magic in their feet or their hands also to be a confident communicator. Sport is infinitely more about heart than mind. It's also about illogical tribal loyalties - I can't be the only person to have found the veneration of Sir Alex Ferguson by the BBC, to whom he refused to speak for seven years, slightly stomach-churning - but, most of all, it's about achievement rather than personality. Which is why Andy Murray just had to win.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks