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Why the BBC Sports Personality Award is still relevant

Why the BBC Sports Personality Award is still relevant

Andy Murray was crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time on Sunday 20th December 2015. Taking over the crown from 2014’s winner Lewis Hamilton, the Scotsman was rewarded for the role he played in the historic Davis Cup win for Great Britain. It is a remarkable achievement for Murray to win the award twice in three years and it’s hard to argue with the public’s choice. However, is the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award still an important accolade, or is it just a meaningless celebrity showcase? We thought we’d chuck our oar in… Today’s sportsmen face different pressures to their predecessors Few would deny that sport in the 21st Century is a completely different phenomenon when compared to the past. Nowadays, virtually everything a sportsperson does is analysed, scrutinised and released to the mass media. News breaks across a variety of sources 24 hours a day. No act or comment can go unnoticed. Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram mean that our sporting idols can speak directly to the public, removing the previously imposed filters that official interviews entailed. It is commonly believed that sports stars, particularly footballers, are more badly behaved nowadays than they were 30 years ago. But is this really the case? One could argue that whilst undoubtedly the “lad culture” within English football encourages a certain level of indecent behaviour, the only reason footballers nowadays have such a bad reputation is that all their antics are recorded. Whether it’s a camera phone, the glare of the paparazzi’s lenses or the constant spotlight of social media,...
Who will be in England’s Rugby World Cup line-up?

Who will be in England’s Rugby World Cup line-up?

With less than two months until the opening game at Twickenham, the question hanging over Stuart Lancaster is who will be in England’s Rugby World Cup line-up? Only 31 players will be chosen when the deadline for selection takes place in September. The current squad, who have just returned from a two-week high-altitude training camp in Denver, will be pushing hard to prove they are worthy of making the final cut – with fitness destined to be a pivotal issue. With 14 players still to face the axe, the England coach and the nation will be keeping a close eye on performance ahead of the three warm-up games in August. So what are the key factors when selecting a team and who will be in England’s Rugby World Cup line-up? Experience versus youth It seems the same debate takes place every few years when deciding the line-up for any team approaching a major international tournament – experience versus youth. That old chestnut. We saw this last summer in Brazil with the England football team and again for the recent European Championship qualifying games. Young talents such as Raheem Stirling, Ross Barkley and Luke Shaw are exciting players who offer hope and vibrancy to a team that can occasionally appear flat. However, there are concerns they lack the experience required for competing under pressure on the highest sporting stage. When seeking reliability we have often tended to put our faith in trusted players like Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard – those that have been around the block and know what’s expected of them (even if they don’t always live up...
Three sporting selection gambles that paid off

Three sporting selection gambles that paid off

England’s batting debacle at Lord’s last weekend prompted countless calls for change so it got us thinking about sporting selection gambles that paid off. England’s selectors eventually plumped for Jonny Bairstow for the third Ashes Test – with Alex Hales, James Taylor, Eoin Morgan and even Kevin Pietersen among those mentioned. With five centuries and an average of over 100 in the County Championship by the time of his call-up, Bairstow’s selection in favour of the out-of-form Gary Ballance was hardly controversial. Picking the big hitting Hales or Morgan would have been a braver – or possibly more reckless – option. Not to mention England outcast Pietersen. Only time will tell if England’s misfiring top order will improve, but while we are waiting to find out here are our top three sporting selection gambles that paid off. David Steele becomes England’s unlikely Ashes hero in 1975 Grey-haired Northants plodder Steele was about as unspectacular as it gets. Averaging just 31 in 12 seasons of first-class cricket, he was plucked out of obscurity after England skipper Tony Greig asked various umpires to identify the hardest batsman to dismiss in county cricket. Low and behold, Steele was thrust into the cauldron of an Ashes series, while Aussie pace duo Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson ripped through the England order in a fashion that rings some all-too-familiar bells 40 years later. Fast forward a few months and Steele averaged over 60 – making four half centuries in three Tests – and was awarded Sports Personality of the Year. Toto Schillaci wins the 1990 World Cup Golden Boot Swarthy goal poacher Salvatore “Toto”...
Can an underdog ever win Wimbledon again?

Can an underdog ever win Wimbledon again?

Another Wimbledon Championships passes and the favourites have once again “aced” their way to victory, prompting the question, can an underdog ever win Wimbledon again? In the past 11 years the only real ‘surprise’ finalist in the men’s competition has been Tomas Berdych in 2010, while among the women, no-one seeded lower than 23 has finished as champion in the entire history of the Championships. Are the Grand Slams becoming increasingly repetitive, or is there still an element of surprise when it comes to lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish or the men’s silver gilt trophy. Can an underdog ever win Wimbledon again? The element of surprise Some matches at this year’s Championships had wonderful moments of surprise and kept us glued to the edge of our seats. We even saw the underdog triumph a few times. The shock result of the tournament was Dustin Brown’s defeat of Rafa Nadal – proof Wimbledon still retains its magical moments. Brown didn’t let himself be overawed by the occasion, and in fact thrived off the Centre Court atmosphere to upset the bookmakers and defeat Nadal in one of the contests of the tournament. However, even after his stunning performance, Brown was not expected to challenge the top seeds, and his progress was halted in the next round. Falling short at the last hurdle Over the years we’ve seen many underdogs coming close to remarkable victories. This year, the standout “near miss” from an underdog came in the clash between British hopeful Heather Watson, and world number one Serena Williams. Watson managed to take Serena to a third set, but just missed out on...
Can inspiration be the winning formula for England’s sports teams?

Can inspiration be the winning formula for England’s sports teams?

A massive summer of sport awaits but can inspiration be the winning formula for England’s sports teams? The national sport – football – has hardly led by example over the last few years. Sadly the England Under 21s failed to buck the trend with an early exit from the European Championships this week. But it’s not all bad news. Far from it in fact. Pride has been a buzzword across both the men and women’s senior teams of late – and recent success for both suggests inspiration could yet prove the secret to English sporting success. “Playing without fear” – taking inspiration from the past After his two goals during England’s recent qualifying win in Slovenia, Jack Wilshere admitted he had been inspired by watching the new film about former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne. “Playing without fear” was the main message he took on board while watching the newly-released documentary on the flight over to Ljubljana a fortnight ago. He certainly took it on board. The 3-2 victory that ensued, and all but secured England’s qualification for France 2016, was arguably Wilshere’s best game for his country so far. So can others follow his lead? Can inspiration be the winning formula for England’s sports teams? There are no shortages of opportunities for this theory to be put to the test in a packed summer of sport. England’s women are setting the standard for others to follow After Lucy Bronze’s stunning winner against Norway, England’s women have progressed to a World Cup quarter final clash with hosts Canada, just three games from glory. They have plenty of their own stories to tell,...