There have been 61 recipients of the Sports Personality of the Year award, but less than 25% of these have been bestowed to female athletes.
In total, just 13 women have won the prize since its inauguration in 1954, none of which have been this decade, with former equestrian competitor Zara Tindall, the last to take home the honour in 2006.
This year, England reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Football World Cup, Jade Jones added to her double Olympic gold in taekwondo by winning the World Championships and the Women’s rugby team won a six-nations grand slam. Despite these achievements, only two out of six nominees were female athletes.
Whilst Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Dina Asher-Smith were both nominated for services to athletics, other women were seemingly snubbed in favour of their male counterparts.
Raheem Sterling was nominated, thanks in part at least to his efforts in helping negate racism out of football. Yet, this nomination comes in a year where the England men’s team did not take part in a major tournament, even though the women did. Harry Kane was nominated in this category last year after England reached the world cup semi-finals, so why has Lucy Bronze or even Steph Houghton been ignored this time around?
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Bronze was nominated for the Ballon D’or like Sterling, finishing second whilst also winning the treble with her domestic club Lyon in France. Surely her achievements this year are at the very least on a par with the Manchester City midfielder?
Interestingly, in three of the previous five years, a female sports team has won the accolade of Team of the Year, with England’s netball, cricket and rugby sides all being recognised. Why then, are individuals not being acknowledged in the same way? Clearly England has been successful across a number of women’s sports, but Jessica Ennis-Hill and Jo Pavey are the only female athletes to place in the top three this decade. Is athletics considered the only sport for which a woman is worthy of a nomination?
The performances of a number of sportsmen obviously deserve recognition. Lewis Hamilton won his 6th Formula 1 World Championship whilst Ben Stokes helped England win the Cricket World Cup for the first time. Though these achievements clearly deserve to be recognised, there is a familiar feeling that whatever women do in comparison, they will not be rewarded in the same way.