Saturday, December 14, 2013

SPOTY - Inward-looking, often maudlin, sometimes downright embarrassing...

I'm not struggling to get my head around Andy Murray's decision to stay away from SPOTY at all, as an article by Giles Smith in today's Times newspaper suggested I would be. I do struggle with the idea that the award is, in the article writer's words, "a pinnacle" of anything. The beanfeest  is a bit of fun - worth watching on a cold winter's night if you've nothing better to do. But the outcomes are arbitrary - akin to asking the public to vote for Camembert versus Creme Brûlée versus Tripe and Onions. All worthy foods no doubt - but one better than the other? Nah!

Last year Bradley Wiggins was a worthy winner. But so would Mo Farah, or Jessica Ennis or a dozen others have been. For all of them their "pinnacle" was winning whatever they won. SPOTY more of a pinnacle than two Olympic Gold Medals? Are you having a laugh?

SPOTY is quintessentially British and there's nothing wrong with that. But if Mr Murray has better things to do that's his call - and frankly none of anybody's business. Like other uniquely British institutions - our Royal events and obsessions, Remembrance Sunday and the rest - there is a sense of obligation that we have to stand in line and salute. And there is an overwheening sentimentality underpinning them as well. We might shrug our shoulders and, anything for a quiet life, buy the bull for a day. Most of us do. But when somebody says "Stuff that for a game of soldiers" (or, as in Murray's case suggests by his absence that that might be his view) we have no right to criticise. 

SPOTY is a bit of fun for many. It's not the Nobel prize, or an Oscar. It's an inward-looking, often maudlin, sometimes downright embarrassing TV event. To take it uber-seriously as The Times article does is giving it a status way beyond anything it deserves. Nobody is obliged to watch it even less to revere it. Including Andy Murray. 

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