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Sunday, 30 November 2008

BBC Sports Personality

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" fa├žade

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.

The FA Cup

If it were up to me, the FA Cup would be melted down and turned into a novelty chess set. I'm thinking It Ain't Half Hot Mum. And if there's any of it left over after that, everyone can just piss on it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

From Dallas, Texas, a flash - apparently official - it's Christmas!


I was walking through Hove yesterday. I was also walking through Hove on Saturday, fact fans. Hove is one of my favourite places in the world, which I suppose makes me middle class. Social strata put to one side for a moment, I was in Cromwell Road (both times! but the event in question happened on the Saturday) when I saw a twinkly sight, a house with its Christmas decorations up. It was the first such domestic dwelling I have seen for Christmas 2008, and as such wins my special Scrooge award.

Cromwell Road is a nostalgic place for me. I used to get the bus there, on the way to school. I would then walk up Wilbury Villas and The Upper Drive for more knowledge and not-at-all-emotionally-damaging FUN. So, dwelling on the past, and seeing the happy tree, I quickly noted that the day's date - 22nd November - was an important one in the History of The World. 45 years previously, President Kennedy was assassinated in Elm Street, Dallas.

Perhaps it's indicative of how the world has changed. Or perhaps it is more to do with cultural differences - Americans still have to slog their way through Thanksgiving before they can think about slogging their way through Christmas. But upon close inspection of the Zapruder film, I can't remember seeing a single Christmas Tree or fairy light.

Had President Kennedy been assassinated last Saturday rather than 45 years earlier, it would have made for some interesting juxtapositions for sure. It would also have been rather unwarranted, as he would have been 91 years old. Utterly stupid, needless and retarded juxtapositions. Not wishing to alienate my loyal readership, but anyone who has their house decorated for Christmas more than a week ahead of Christmas Day is a fucking arsehole*, plain and simple. The Lockerbie bomb should be made all the more tragic and poignant because of its proximity to the festive season - 20 years ago on December 21st this year. But remembering the Kennedy Assasination should not ever be done next to a Douglas Fir.

* Well, probably not. But I can't imagine they have a particularly special or exciting Christmas, given that their tree will have turned brown and all their lights burned out by December 14th.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Oh Bama

"The Americans will always do the right thing, once they have exhausted all other possibilities" - Sir Winston Churchill

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Good morning, America

Things that I can never, ever forgive the United States of America for:
  • Trick or treat.
  • The fact all our teenagers now speak like they're in the cast of Friends, if not in accent, then in inflection.
  • The fact that all sorts of very clever people who I respect a great deal now say "airplane" instead of "aeroplane".
  • The fact our entire political system's integrity has been compromised for decades to come since the UK became America's little bitch.
  • The American National Anthem.
  • The "USA...USA..." chant at sporting events.

Things which go some way towards making this up to me:
  • Bob Dylan.
  • Warner Bros. cartoons.
  • Specs.
  • House M.D., Quincy M.E., Ghostbusters and the Die Hard films.

Almost all* of it will be forgiven, however, if you all elect Barack Obama as President next week. Don't do it for him. Don't do it for yourselves or your neighbours. Don't do it in a spirit of revenge against George Bush. Do it for me.

* I will never forgive trick or treating or your national anthem, though. Never. Not ever.

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