And so the incurable malady of the Sports Personality ceremony lingers on.
The disgraceful decision to again ignore Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s greatest player of all time, from SPOTY, hit a worse note than David Baddiel trying to sing Three Lions at the smug, self-satisfied annual jamboree.
The decision-making to somehow omit O’Sullivan from the shortlist is as much of a waste of space as filling Birmingham’s Genting Arena with 15,000 to celebrate a closed shop. This is an event that completely lost its sense of decorum a long time ago. Probably when blokes like Harry Carpenter and big Frank Bruno were putting golf balls around the old BBC TV Centre back in the 1980s.
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SPOTY is no longer for the people who watch sport, but soiled by people who think they know what the public like or want. Who think they know better than the great viewing public.
It has as much credibility as the haggard Brexit diatribe “the will of the people” by disconnected eccentrics who have completely lost any sense of what the public actually want or like.
"What has anybody done in British sport done that Ronnie hasn't done," said an animated Mark Allen after his 9-7 win over Shaun Murphy in the Scottish Open final in Glasgow.
"It is absolutely ridiculous that he gets overlooked time and time again."
O’Sullivan was priced at 14-1 for the top award last night behind only Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane, and it must be said a deserving winner in Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.
Even when the six names were trotted out by host Gary Lineker, who weirdly invited them to trudge onto the stage if they heard their name like some sort of sixth form teacher, O’Sullivan was still ahead of Lizzy Yarnold and James Anderson in the betting.
But how can he win if he isn’t allowed a place on the shortlist?
Like him or loathe him, at the ripe young age of 43, O’Sullivan has personality, longevity and continues to be a magnificent champion at a stage of his career when other players are reaching for the horlicks.
The latest judging panel who opted against O’Sullivan for the final list of six nominees for the top award are guilty of failing to properly appreciate one of this country’s most talented sports people of all time.
Since he turned professional in 1992, O’Sullivan has astonishingly never been nominated. Yet on he goes, continuing to not only compete with age, but actually improve with 19 major events carried off from the sport.
He has enjoyed a wonderful time in 2018, finishing the year with a record seventh UK title while winning the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, the Shanghai Masters and the Champion of Champions amid a smorgasbord of runs to the latter stages of events.
If he cannot make it onto the shortlist, you can well and truly forget the biggest snooker story of the year: the rejuvenated world champion Mark Williams winning a third world title at the age of 43, 15 years after his second gong at the Crucible. This miracle on the Sheffield mound occurred a year after the Welshman was thinking of retiring for failing to qualify for the tournament.
How can such world-class individuals be overlooked when they have spades of personality, charisma, dedication and a winning mentality?
Snooker is a game that was huge in the 1980s when it was transported from darkened spaces in working men’s clubs to mainstream TV.
It made icons of men like Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, Steve Davis and Jimmy 'The Whirlwind' White, but it is interesting that snooker has been treated with more disdain at a time when standards have never been higher. At a time when the standard-bearer is an English bloke who performs such a tough, unremitting game like he is potting pool balls down the pub.
O'Sullivan brings a spiritual element to snooker that has never been seen before and is perhaps unlikely to be witnessed again. O'Sullivan has made it more of an art form than a game. Van Gogh of the green baize. Quite possibly.
Steve Davis won SPOTY in 1988 and fellow multiple world champion Stephen Hendry was nominated behind Gazza in 1990, but has been rendered irrelevant by the powers that be since then. Why has O’Sullivan been shabbily overlooked?
According to the Daily Telegraph, he and heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury may have been damaged by the list being drawn up "three weeks ago". The SPOTY panel apparently revisited the original list last week after Fury fought Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles, but were happy with their original six choices.
It is difficult to escape from the idea that the working class roots of snooker and boxing continue to be sneered at. But a general ignorance about the talent levels involved in such sports make a mockery of the SPOTY panel of judges. Once again.
The SPOTY judging panel have made a barmier call than the trio who thought Wilder drew with Fury.
Like O’Sullivan, Fury does not fit into the politically correct crew who put false, manufactured persona above proper working class heroes.
Plenty was made about Fury’s debatable views a few years ago, and plenty of critics berated his nomination because of his outlook after outpointing Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Yet he finished fourth three years ago despite plenty of derision and a campaign to demote him. Mainly because he oozes personality.
This is a bloke who has since battled depression, suicidal thoughts and obesity to return to the very top. He plans to hand over his £8m purse from the nonsensical draw with Wilder to build homes for the homeless. Still the undefeated lineal champion, Fury should have been in or around the top six at SPOTY, but was nowhere because he does not fit the politically correct times in which we live. Yet he is a true gypsy king.
Like O’Sullivan, he has suffered from a cliquish interpretation of what the man or woman in the street likes.
SPOTY will continue to be run by a cabal of misguided snobs, but it completely lacks any credibility when it decides to omit great personalities for being great. And more importantly, for being true to themselves.
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26/05/2022 AT 15:24