Why SPOTY is now a pale shadow of what it was in its heyday

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2014, presented by Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan, is not what it was in its prime.  Photo by kind permission of the BBC - Photos by Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson.
BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2014, presented by Clare Balding, Gary Lineker and Gabby Logan, is not what it was in its prime. Photo by kind permission of the BBC - Photos by Ray Burmiston and Joel Anderson.
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Anyone aged 40 and above should thank heavens they were alive to watch televised sport in its golden age.

It was an era when giants such as David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Sir Peter O’Sullevan and Brian Moore roamed the cathode ray tube jungle and no sporting event was the same without them.

Sport Talk by Winston Brown.

Sport Talk by Winston Brown.

When Grandstand and World of Sport, with the grey-haired Frank Bough and “housewives’ choice” Dickie Davies, made Saturday afternoons unmissable in front of the “one-eyed monster in the corner”.

Sadly, these legends are passing away one by one, to be replaced by a bunch of second-raters, sportsmen-turned-pundits and talentless PC faces whose only purpose on TV and radio sets is to tick some ethnic diversity box.

Nowhere can the impact of such editorial insanity be more clearly seen than on BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY), a once professional directed and produced compendium of the sporting year, only to become as painful to watch as Blind Date.

To be fair, this year’s “celebration of sport” at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena wasn’t as bad as first feared.

In fact, Gary Lineker’s croacky voice gave him an added authority, while alongside him, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan genuinely added to the occasion with all-round sporting knowledge.

This is not the place to debate the whys and wherefores about Lewis Hamilton polling ahead of Rory McIlroy in the public vote, although Jo Pavey’s third place was a real and unexpected boost for the athletics community drowning in yet another drugs controversy.

But nothing that happened on Sunday can replace the unforgettable memories served up by Coleman, Carpenter and their type who really understood what a privilege sports broadcasting is.