Heralded as the authority of British journalism, the BBC will want to avoid any connection with gender inequality, having already been called out on the pressing issue earlier this year. Reports surfaced that men working at the company earned on average 9.3% more than women who completed the exact same job.
The broadcaster has little to do with the outcome of the award, as an expert panel narrows down a list of worthy sportspeople which is then put to a public vote. However, this year’s list of contenders and their odds highlight gender equality which could be argued to still be prevalent throughout sport. A list is simply compiled and then handed to the public who vote who they see fit.
2017 has been an outstanding year for the majority of national women’s teams. The cricket team won the World Cup, beating India in the final by nine runs. The football team made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship and striker Jodie Taylor took home the golden boot. England’s rugby team were narrowly beaten in the World Cup final, going down by nine points to New Zealand. Emily Scarratt was just one of the stand out players in the competition, scoring a staggering 56 points for England.
It’s not just England’s national teams which stood out in 2017. Flat jockey Josephine Gordon became the second ever woman to ride 100 winners in a year including a maiden Group-race success.
Bianka Walkden won a Taekwondo gold medal at the World Championships in South Korea, becoming the only Briton to defend a World taekwondo title.
Elise Christie had a year to remember with the Scot scooping the 1000m, 1500m titles at the World Short Track Speed Staking Championships, to cap it off she also took bronze in the 3000m.
Another woman who was not a stranger to the main news item this year was Johanna Konta, who became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals since 1978, before eventually losing to Venus Williams. Outside of the majors she claimed the Miami Open in April.
Even with so many woman having such a strong claim for BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, the favourites to win the award are all men. You have to scroll to near the bottom of Oddschecker’s grid, to find the first female in the market in the shape of Anya Shrubhole. Her odds of 150/1 imply a 0.7% chance she will be voted the winner. Shrubsole took six wickets for just forty-six run in the World Cup final to secure a tense win over India, and captured the heart of the nation when she consoled the distraught South African captain after their semi-final defeat at the hands of Shrubhole’s England.
If the men’s team were to win a cricket World Cup, and Stuart Broad took six wickets in the final, the chances are he’d be somewhat shorter than 150/1 to take home the prestigious honour.
The next female on the list is Bianka Walden at a dizzying 300/1, implying that she has a 0.3% chance of winning. At the bottom of the grids you’ll find both Ellie Christie and Johanna Konta at 500/1 (0.2% chance of winning).
The favourite in the market is Anthony Joshua, the British heavyweight champion has fought just twice this year, defeating Wladimir Klitschko in a scrap he was roundly expected to win (he was 2/5 favourite on the night implying a 71.4% chance). Joshua then defeated Carlos Takam in October after the man from Cameroon took the fight with less than two weeks’ notice and for which AJ was 1/100 (99% chance).
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton is 8/1 to win the award and enjoyed another successful year, clinching his fourth world title. Although his path to victory could be quashed due to the over reliance of how well the driver’s car performs, it could be argued that his all-conquering Mercedes is the biggest protagonist in his win. Indeed, Hamilton was 5/4 (44.4%) to win the Drivers’ Championship back in February, so his win hardly came as a huge shock.
The inclusion of Harry Kane in the market comes as a surprise, the English striker is 50/1 to win the SPOTY 2017. There’s no doubting the Spurs man has had a cracking year, winning the Golden Boot again, captaining England and being nominated for the Ballon d’Or. His achievements means he warrants being in the market, however if Kane is on the shortlist, Jodie Taylor has to be in contention. If any male footballer won the Golden Boot at a major competition, they’d be among the favourites to win the award, yet Taylor didn’t even make the shortlist.
With that in mind, that doesn’t even take into account the lack of female rugby players on the list. If a male player was the third highest try scorer in a World Cup, they would be almost guaranteed to make the shortlist.
Obviously the popularity and difference in viewing figures will have a seismic impact on the public vote, however, there’s an argument that the expert panel would have included a few of the women mentioned if indeed they were men.