Winning at sport is a means to an end, if you ask me. The real award is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy. I'll admit it's perhaps become a little devalued in recent years since they allowed the general public - who are fucking idiots - decide the winner on the night via a phone vote. But still, it's the greatest single sporting honour this country has to offer.
As you may have already guessed, I'm a big fan. I'm particularly excited this year, because I think it may turn out to be the hardest decision made in years. Not since 1992 has there been a clash between a decent British showing at the Olympic Games and a British Formula 1 World Champion, for example. Then, Nigel Mansell prevailed. But the Olympian feats in Barcelona pale compared to those of Beijing 2008, and Lewis Hamilton could very well end up being the first British Formula 1 World Champion since James Hunt in 1976 to not end up with the biggest prize of all.
I've had both my crystal and magic eight balls out, to try and use science, mathematics and my own brilliant mind to figure out who will prevail this year. So, get your money at the ready and prepare to dash to the bookmakers, if you want the greatest Christmas of your miserable lives.
Before we move on to specifics, it is important to consider the breakdown of where the trophy tends to go. The BBCSPOTY was first awarded in 1954, which means that this year's event will be the 55th. Of the 54 so far:
Athletics accounts for 16 awards; Motor racing 6; Boxing 5; Cricket 4; Football 4; Equestrian 3; Ice skating 3; Tennis 3; Golf 2; Swimming 2; Cycling, Motorcycle racing, Rowing, Rugby Union and Snooker have one each.
Germaine Greer will be interested to note that men have won 42 times, women 13 (the numerical discrepancy here due to Torvill and Dean's shared award in 1984, rather than the fact I counted Fatima Whitbread as both or John Curry and Robin Cousins as women. I didn't. That would be both mean and inaccurate).
Sports Personality of the Year
Let's get this straight, fans of semantics. "Personality" here is a misnomer. Let's instead think of it as the BBC Who's The Best British Sportsperson of the Year award. Anyone who argues any differently is a prick. I'm sorry, but you just are.
Last year: Joe Calzaghe (Boxing)
This year: Between Chris Hoy (Cycling), Rebecca Adlington (Swimming) and Lewis Hamilton (Motor Racing). Anyone who says Andrew Murray will be laughed out of Dodge.
Who should win: Out of that lot? Chris Hoy. Who SHOULD win? Victoria Pendleton.
Who will win: Rebecca Adlington, I should think
BBC Team of the Year
Because there is no I in team.
Last year: England Rugby Union
This year: No contest really. The British Olympic and Paralympic teams will piss it, although they'll pad it out by whiffling on about the Welsh Rugby Union team and Manchester United
Who should win: British Olympic and Paralympic
Who will win: British Olympic and Paralympic
BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year
This is an award I love and hate in equal measure. I love it because it's not decided by the moronic populace. I hate it because it's so riven with politics, it might as well be. Michael Schumacher never won this award, despite a 12 year period of dominance during which he became the single most successful racing driver of all time. Sadly, it corresponded with the time that the BBC had lost the rights to F1 coverage, so he was well and truly buggered. Although, conspiracy theories aside, he also faced stiff competition from Lance "One Ball" Armstrong, Tiger "He's Black!" Woods and Roger "Not As Good As He Used To Be" Federer. But Goran "I Won One Thing, By Accident" Ivanisevic? Fuck off.
Last year: Roger Federer (Tennis)
This year: A fiesty duel between Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Rafael Nadal. (I'd not be surprised, in fact, to see a new award this year to put on public record the BBC's approval for this year's Wimbledon men's final, the greatest sporting event I have ever witnessed. It would probably be given some brilliantly portentious title, too, which would be a bonus. Watch this space.) Oh, and they'll probably shoehorn a bit about Valentino Rossi in here, too.
Who should win: Michael Phelps (Swimming)
Who will win: Usain Bolt (Athletics), probably. Otherwise the whole show could turn into a swimming love-in.
BBC Sport Coach of the Year Award
Because red-nosed borderline alcoholics, wife-beaters or frustrated army drill sergeants deserve awards as well.
Last year: Enzo Calzaghe (Boxing trainer)
This year: Between David Brailsford (Olympic Cycling Team), Warren Gatland (Wales Rugby Union) and Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United). Fabio Capello might get a mention, but he'll have to actually win something before he gets a sniff.
Who should win: David Brailsford
Who will win: Warren Gatland, to keep up the BBC's ludicrous "Rugby is a sport" façade
The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Helen Rollason Award I will not be discussing. This is due to the fact that they are chosen by an internal BBC Sports panel and as such are always richly merited, being untainted by the pig-ignorant trotters of the filthy masses. The current holders are Sir Bobby Robson and Oscar Pistorius. I'll also not be discussing the Unsung Hero Award. Because it's so boring and stupid.
BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year
There is an age qualification element to this. Initially called The Newcomer Award for people 25 or under (principally to allow them to give the first trinket - in 1999 - to 34-year old pipe smoker Dean Macey). Since 2001, however, the upper limit has been 18.
Last year: Tom Daley (Diving)
This year: Tom Daley having blotted his copybook by the entirely understandable failure for a 14-year old boy to win GOLD at the Olympic Games, this one will be fought out between Laura Robson (14), who won Junior Wimbledon this year and Eleanor Simmonds (13), double Paralympic swimming gold medalist. A sawn-off Rebecca Adlington, if you will.
Who should win: Eleanor Simmonds
Who will win: Eleanor Simmonds deserves to breeze it, unless BBC Health and Safety decree that having a dwarf about the place would be a fire hazard. Which is possible.
The Semi-Official* BBCSPOTY-Dotmund Drinking Game
This is very simple. Watch this year's ceremony on BBC1 (it's on Sunday, 14th December). Every time one of my hot predictions is right, you have to drink. Every time one is wrong, you have to take two drinks. Every time they mention Tiger Woods, drink. Every time they mention Padraig Harrington without drooling, you get to eat a biscuit. Every time they manage to almost-successfully gloss over a sport they've lost the rights to, drink. Every time they manage to almost-successfully gloss over catastrophic British shortcomings in events they DO still have the rights to, drink. If you're not dead from alcohol poisoning by the end of this, probably best to take a handful of painkillers and end it all. And I'll see you on the other side!
* I've officially licensed this game, they haven't. I also take no responsibility for any death or injury incurred by anyone stupid enough to play this game, however funny those deaths or injuries may be. Seriously. Don't play this game, you spackwit.