Updated: May 22, 2020
With everything that has happened so far this year, many of the live sporting events we have been looking forward to have been thrown into the abyss and replaced by re-runs, podcasts and vodcasts that focus on the good ol' days and what it was like pre-Covid.
In the face of missing out on Liverpool's first Premier League title win (the season isn't over yet), the Olympics and the new cricketing season, I feel like we have regressed a little too much by focussing on past situations. The reason I say this is that although I've really enjoyed looking back on the 2005 Ashes and last year's Cricket World Cup win, I'm basically bored of quizzes about previous sporting events and being asked to pick my top XI. While it is always good to reflect on the glory days, let's not ignore some of the good news stories that are happening in the present.
So what can we do to make a change and highlight some of the really great things that have been happening despite all of the awful things?
Here's an idea... instead of reflecting on the past, let's focus on the future
Even though there has been no sport since March, there are still sports personalities who have been capturing the imaginations of the nation and doing some really great things. With this in mind, we can still use the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (hereafter known as SPOTY) as a vehicle to highlight some people who might otherwise never stand a chance to win - for the simple reason that they have used their profiles for positive gains during a negative time.
The great thing about running SPOTY 2020 would be that everyone will be on an even footing - you don't have to play for an elite sports team, you just have to live in the UK, play a significant amount of sport here and achieve something remarkable. Hmmm... if only professional sports people were competetive... now, who's up for a challenge?
*Note: I've slightly edited the copy so that it is updated for 2020. The web people at the BBC haven't updated it yet. Awkward.
This award goes to the sportsperson whose actions have most captured the UK public's imagination during 2020.
It is decided by an expert independent Panel who convenes (usually in November) to decide the shortlist of sportspeople for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year production team will provide the Panel with an extensive list of the top sportspeople from 2020, including information on their achievements. The Panel will be free to consider other potential candidates. The Panel will select a shortlist of sportspeople for the main award on the basis of the following criteria:
Reflects UK sporting achievements on the national and/or international stage;
Represents the breadth and depth of UK sports; and
Takes into account 'impact' of the person's sporting achievement beyond the sport in question.
Sportspeople are eligible to be nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award if they are UK citizens or all of the following criteria apply:
they play a significant amount of their sport in the UK; and
their core achievements that year were achieved in the UK, and not with a non-UK based team (in which case they would more likely qualify for the World Sport Star award); and
they are residents in the UK
Non-playing coaches or management are not eligible.
Taking the above into account, why on earth can't we have a SPOTY for 2020?
This is a great opportunity for us to highlight using sport for good, inspiring others to take up sport and encourage parents to play sport with their kids.
Where do we start? Let's start building our Longlist!
We can start by putting together a longlist of professional sports personalities who are currently going over and above to use their profile and the vehicle of sport to promote positivity and activity in a time of global uncertainty. We can start this NOW because we've got an entire summer for our great sportsmen and women to get involved and start doing some really great things for their community and country. Then, we can hopefully read less about sporting heroes flouting lockdown in favour of sex parties, and more about them putting themselves out there for their community and the greater good.
Let's not let something like a pandemic stop us from making a positive impact.
It's okay, I've already started...
I will be creating a separate post and adding to it over the coming months, as I am hoping that I will need to add a significant amount of names to the longlist, but here's a start:
John Marquis - Footballer, Portsmouth FC
John heard that Pompey fan, George, had been battling with his mental health and did something truly wonderful - he gave him a call to ask him if he was OK and listened. He also told George about his mental health issues and the coping mechanisms he uses to get through his struggles. This took so much courage on John's part because he was willing to share some really personal details with a complete stranger to achieve just one goal: to help someone else who is struggling. Find out more about this inspiring story HERE.
Ben Stokes - Cricketer, England
Last year's SPOTY winner ran his first ever half marathon in an impressive 1hr 39 mins, raising money for cricket charity Chance to Shine and NHS Charities Together, after being inspired by three young men who were running the distance between wickets in their own back gardens. This is an amazing story of grassroots cricket influencing and motivating a cricketing god - you can find out more about it HERE.
Roger Federer - Tennis Player, Switzerland (International)
In early April, Roger was one of the first to get on board with lockdown and try to get people to use their time at home to do something active. He came up with the Volleying at Home Challenge and started encouraging his followers to give it a go and then offered them feedback on technique - which is a great way to connect with his fans. Being well-known as a nice sort of bloke, he then started tagging some of his numerous celebrity and sporting friends and getting them to involve themselves. You can see Hugh Jackman, Tony Kroos and rival Novak Djokovic among many others...
This list will continue to grow, as long as our sporting heroes continue to inspire us. you can SIGN-UP HERE to stay up-to-date.