One of the viewing staples in my household for as long as I can remember is the annual sporting review by the BBC – The Sports Personality of the Year – usually featuring the best of the year’s sporting action, achievement and performance with a well chosen selection of awards thrown in.
This year’s epic show, aired in mid-December, followed much the same recipe, Sebastien Vettel received the much coveted Overseas Personality of the Year with an accompanying, and stylishly produced film, and his 2013 team-mate at Red Bull, Mark Webber was on hand too to, to help with the presentation of the Team of the Year award, no mention of his ‘retirement’ from Formula One though.
Another staple was repeated, the saddest section of the night as the sporting greats that have passed on are remembered – Huge kudos to the BBC for mentioning Sean Edwards, and Maria de Villota too.
There was no mention though of Allan Simonsen, a man driving for one of the biggest names in British motorsport at an event in France that attracts more spectators from the UK than most sporting events in any sport that actually take place IN the UK – A major omission.
Two much bigger misses though were to emerge – No mention whatsoever of the retiring Dario Franchitti, until this year the UK driver, still active in the sport, with the most impressive cv. Three Indy 500 wins and four IndyCar titles and not a word said by the principal broadcaster in his homeland.
And then we come to his fellow Scot Allan McNish – and an FIA World Championship win, the first Endurance World Championship by a Briton, a third Le Mans win (see above for the significance of that event), all for a major factory team and achieved, lets not forget, by a man who features very regularly as part of the BBC’s F1 commentary team!
Not a word, nada, nicht, nowt – And not an apology for the misses either in response to a politely worded complaint on the matter, simply a pretty weasel worded ‘editorial decisions’ kiss off.
This isn’t a matter of complaining about the inclusion of other minority sports in a review. They have, and deserve, a place, but it is a complaint about the continuing corporate ignorance of significant motorsport outside Formula One.
The BBC’s otherwise excellent website doesn’t even have an easily accessible section for non-F1 motorsport – and that’s unforgiveable – There is a section in there somewhere that is usually almost exclusively reserved for tragedy and major shunts, though ironically it does feature stories around Allan’s title win, and two days after the review show covered his retirement announcement too – To find those though you need a search, not a drop down menu , not even in the sub-menu entitled ‘More Sports’ where 42 different sports are given a home on the website – Motorsport is not!
The lack of acknowledgement and the lack of visibility within the more general sporting envelope is an issue that needs to be addressed not by fans and observers, but by the governing bodies. What hope for the FIA WEC to break through in pubic consciousness when the national broadcaster of a World Champion doesn’t see that achievement as being worthy of a mention.
I strongly doubt that the FIA offered a comment about McNish’s exclusion from the review, they should have done so, and they should complain about the website too, as should the RAC MSA, the BRDC and all other responsible bodies.
Nobody expects the BBC to provide wall to wall coverage of every aspect of motorsport – that’s the job of the likes of DSC and our myriad colleagues whose interests lie in other areas of the sport. But the real, global achievements of teams, manufacturers and drivers need to be celebrated and recognised when and where appropriate, and more people need to get involved in a movement to challenge the status quo where that isn’t the case.
I feel a campaign coming on!