The popular refrain of “too soon!” in relation to seasonal products being available in shops far sooner than strictly necessary has died out, as it is now December and the rest of the world has caught up with me and realised that Christmas is once again coming. Christmas decorations going on sale in September doesn’t bother me – I like to be prepared – but something else about the inevitable end of the year does. In November, every media outlet seems to consider it to be the right time to offer a summary of the year, whether it be winners and losers, heroes and villains or important events.
The biggest culprits are monthly publications, whose copy and print deadlines are earlier than most, and the length of time they spend on newsstands occasionally gathering dust meaning a rapid decrease in the relevance of their content. But, to me, this is no excuse. At the beginning of November, there is still a significant sixth of the year remaining. Many important things can happen in this time, overshadowing other events, no matter how mammoth they seemed at the time. Just as I feel a little sorry for those who celebrate their birthdays in December, and are therefore saddled with a lifetime of combined (or worse: diminished) presents, I am saddened that important events occurring in November and December are often omitted from annual round-ups.
To add insult to injury, I find myself frequently disagreeing with the content of these summations. Does a woman having morning sickness (like millions of others) or wearing a coat more than once (again, like many of us) really warrant a mention amongst the top news stories or fashion moments of the year? Not when a legendary world leader dies in the home straight of a year.
But these are my opinions, and I have yet to find anyone who agrees that annual round-ups prior to year end are wrong (which is probably karmic retribution for being the only person I know to start Christmas shopping in August every year). There is, however, one annual prize which courts controversy regularly: the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award.
Part of me sympathises with the BBC – the often can’t do right for doing wrong. They’re frequently criticised for not featuring enough women (though they are far from the only broadcaster to show little interest in airing female sporting contests over male ones), but a quota system would seem like a farce which could lead to criticism of there being a lack of merit-based places on the shortlist. The unparalleled success of British sport in 2012 saw them increase the number of spots on their shortlist, but they were still lambasted for including the “wrong” people. And finally, the biggest controversy: the terminology used – is this an award for sporting prowess, a winning personality, a combination of both or none of the above? I know I’m not the only one to have joked prior to Tears On Centre Court 2012 that Andy Murray was personality-deficient and should therefore not be nominated, for example.
The fact is, SPOTY will never please everyone, and I suspect that the number of people it does please is very small. It will never sing the praises of the minority, and has the potential to eliminate those with enormous talent in their field, just because that field happens to be a small one. Of those who have made the shortlist this year, Ohuruogu or McCoy would get my vote. I believe that the best is still to come from the likes of Murray and Cockroft – I think that they will have even better years and that more will come. In sporting terms, I am glad that 2013 is almost over and that we are able to take another step forward: after the stunning performances of 2012, 2013 always had a lot that it could never quite live up to. Being a year further away from The Year That Was will allow us greater perspective and, hopefully, space for further improvement.
The future is exciting, even though round-up and awards season isn’t.