The Captain: 'Let's celebrate the Anti-Sports Personality of the Year'
That time of year is fast approaching once again, the time of year that unites families and friends and encourages everyone to give thanks and praise.
No, I’m not talking the dreaded ‘C’ word, which we seem to spend roughly a quarter of our lives building up to. I am of course talking about the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
This year’s television centre bash will be crammed to the rafters with worthy sporting greats, such has been the impact of the Olympics and Paralympics on the public’s perception of sport - Cornwall’s very own Helen Glover and Ben Ainslie will be amongst those hoping to get a nod.
Anyway, I won’t bore you with mindless rhetoric about who should win what, and why.
I will, however, suggest a further category that should be celebrated- perhaps not in the same way, but celebrated none-the-less.
I want to suggest a different kind of award: the Anti-Sports Personality of the Year award.
It’s perhaps not a trophy that anyone wants to receive, but it might help galvanise public opinion and answer the question on everyone’s mind: who is the biggest sporting berk of the year? Who has dragged their sport through the gutter and deserves recognition for being a thoroughly detestable example of humanity?
Sadly there are as many candidates for this title as there are for the real one. But let me take you through a few of the frontrunners. For the purpose of my own bias I will extend the category to distant shores and include for consideration our cousins from over the pond.
Lance Armstrong: His fall from grace has been perhaps the most spectacular of all time.
A once heralded super-human, thought capable of feats no other man or beast could match; a seven-time Tour de France winner who battled through cancer to rise to the top of his sport, leaving an adoring public awe-struck and teary-eyed in his wake. We loved Lance; he was an all-American hero.
Only he wasn’t. The staggering revelations that he’d been completely stuffed to the gills with drugs for most of his career prompted the cycling authorities to take back every title he’d won because the full extent of his cheating could not be accurately comprehended.
Furthermore, his contempt for the sport and everyone who had ever looked upon him as a sporting great was so great he didn’t even have the decency to admit what we all know to be true- that he is no better than a common criminal.
Armstrong is a drug-peddling cheat who will now occupy a place in history alongside Ben Johnson and a host of other sad nobodies. It is for these reasons that the American is my favourite for the award.
In boxing there are a couple of names that stick in the mind. Both Audley Harrison and Lamont Peterson have worthy claims to the Anti-Sports Personality of the Year award.
Peterson staked his claim when he admitted using steroids in the build up to his points win over Amir Khan last December to claim the WBA and IBF world titles. His story was one of rags to riches- a man who had risen from sleeping rough to conquering the world. It was hard not to become intoxicated with another tear-jerker of a tale. Alas, it was all a smokescreen.
Fraudley Harrison was not guilty of anything nearly as soul-destroying as drug taking, but in some respects I wish he had.
At least then he may have stepped into a boxing ring actually wanting to throw a punch and attempt to live up to the shameless way he has promoted himself.
His loss to David Haye was bad enough, but watching him lose to David Price in the manner he did was simply a waste of good electricity.
His fall from grace was such that, in the end, he left boxing a comedic parody of the fighter he was in 2000, when he won gold at the Sydney Olympics.
And finally, in cricket, Kevin Pietersen.
What can you say about KP that hasn’t been said already this year? He cemented his place as the most hated man in the England dressing room when he texted his South African opponents mocking the exploits of his team-mates.
Never have I felt so sick watching a press-conference or YouTube clip as I was when witnessing Pietersen trying to weasel his way back into favour with selectors.
A big hitter with a bat he may be, but he is not longer a big hit with the cricketing fraternity.
But Pietersen’s hubris and Haye’s cowardice aside, my choice for Anti-Sports Personality of the Year should already be obvious.
So for being a cheat, a coward, and a loser; for almost undoing all the hard work cycling has done in trying to clean itself up, and then when caught out essentially sticking his fingers in his ears, hopping up and down on the spot and shouting ‘I’m not listening! I’m not listening!’ For all that and much, much more, I hereby declare the winner of this year’s Anti-Sports Personality of the Year award to be...Lance Armstrong.
Lance, take a bow.
Who would your choice for Anti-Sports Personality of the Year be? Have your say below!