BBC Sports Personality of the Year- Letter of complaint to Director General Mark Thompson

In light of the announcement by the BBC of the nominations for BBC Sports Personality of the Year I was disappointed to find no women selected for this years shortlist. I am also concerned by the fact that only the men’s magazines, ‘Zoo’ and ‘Nuts’ magazine  were included in the nomination process.

I have raised my concerns, along with Alison McGovern MP, Jo Swinson MP and Joan Walley MP with the BBC Director General, Mark Thompson.

copy of the letter is below for you to view.


Dear Mark,

We are writing regarding Sports Personality of the Year award, run by the BBC.  We are very concerned that, this year, not one single woman has been shortlisted for the public vote. 

This outcome is extremely unhelpful to the promotion of women’s’ sport in the UK.  It will result in the annual TV programme – usually a great occasion for British sport – ignoring women’s achievements in 2011. 

This bias has led to a number of outstanding sporting achievements by women being entirely disregarded. Rebecca Adlington, Keri-Anne Payne, Victoria Pendleton, Chrissie Wellington, Nicola Adams, Jessica Ennis, Sarah Stevenson,  Beth Tweddle, Hannah England and Kath Grainger, among others, have all been fantastically successful within their respective fields, yet none have made the shortlist.  Chrissie Wellington, for example, has set two new world records in 2011. She even won the 2011 Ironman World Championship race despite suffering from a number of serious injuries, but has not received any recognition for this on the shortlist.

A great deal of work is done each year by the sporting community to encourage women and girls into sport, and the absence of women from this award severely undermines those efforts.

We therefore ask you, as Director General, the following questions:

  1. Can you explain what consideration the BBC currently takes to make sure these awards are given in a spirit of equality?
  2. Can you explain the reasoning behind the inclusion of the men’s magazines ‘Nuts’ and ‘Zoo’ in the nomination process, but the exclusion of equivalent women’s or sports magazines?
  3. What consideration is being given to an alteration to the rules of the award to make sure this does not happen in future years?
  4. Will you meet a delegation of us to discuss how to improve the celebration of women in sporting life?

 And we look forward to your swift response,

Stella Creasy, Alison McGovern, Jo Swinson, Joan Walley

Members of Parliament