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Sports Personality of the Year 2012

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Barbara Slater Barbara Slater | 16:40 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2012

2012 was always going to be a very special year for sport - but surely none of us could have imagined quite how much it would exceed expectations.

To find a time when sport created such a sense of national pride and euphoria you have to go all the way back to 1966 and England winning the World Cup on home soil.

There have been many special sporting moments since then but surely nothing that compares to the events of this year.

Much has been said and written about the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. It was billed as the ‘greatest show on earth’ and it's difficult to imagine how they could have gone any better.

Mark Cavendish

Mark Cavendish was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2011. Photo: PA

But the year of sport was not defined solely by the brilliance of these Games. We have been spoilt with so much sporting drama and unprecedented success across many sports.

The power of sport to unite the nation has never been so evident.

And so BBC Sport will be celebrating and reliving these events with our biggest ever Sports Personality of the Year on the evening of Sunday, 16 December.

We will be broadcasting live on BBC One, BBC One HD and BBC Radio 5 live from Excel London in front of a record crowd of more than 15,000 people.

It’s a huge privilege to bring the sporting curtain down on 2012 and we hope it will be a fitting finale to one of the most enthralling and memorable 12 months in the history of sport in the United Kingdom.

This year also sees some changes to the show.

Given the calibre and number of potential candidates this year has produced, we have decided the 2012 shortlist will consist of 12 sportspeople, two more than usual.

As in previous years, the winner will be voted for by the public during the live BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme, giving everyone a chance to back their favourite.

We also committed to review the shortlisting process for this year’s event following the controversy of an all-male list in 2011.

It was the first time that the system had thrown up this sort of anomaly, although no-one could deny that Mark Cavendish was a very worthy winner of the award and the clear choice of the general public.

We wanted a wide range of input into the review so over the last 12 months, assisted by some of my senior BBC colleagues, I have consulted with a wide range of people on the subject including BBC Audience Councils, former nominees and various representatives of the sports media and sporting bodies.

Amongst all the discussion and debate two key messages in particular shone through.

Firstly, there was a consensus that the BBC itself should be better represented and have more control in the shortlisting process to ensure there are no more anomalies of the sort we saw in 2011 - in the previous system the BBC had no input other than to administer the voting process.

Our research also showed that there were many options and views about how that control should be exerted. We thought long and hard about the right way forward, to ensure the show maintains its credibility as the definitive review of the sporting year.

We have decided to evolve the shortlisting process through the introduction of an expert panel. The panel will be asked to devise a shortlist that reflects UK sporting achievements on the national and/or international stage, represents the breadth and depth of UK sports and takes into account ‘impact’ within and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.

The 2012 panel will comprise:
*Me, in my role as Director of BBC Sport (Chair)

*The BBC’s Head of TV Sport (Philip Bernie)

*The Executive Editor of BBC Sports Personality of the Year (Carl Doran).

*A representative from BBC Radio 5 Live - this year, Eleanor Oldroyd.

*Three national newspaper sports editors (to be rotated annually) - this year, Mike Dunn (The Sun), Lee Clayton (Daily Mail) and Matthew Hancock (Observer)

*Three former nominees (to be appointed annually) - this year, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and Denise Lewis OBE

*A pan-sports broadcaster/journalist - this year, Sue Mott

*Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport.

The panel will endeavour to produce a shortlist based on reaching a consensus view. If a consensus view cannot be reached on all or some of the candidates, then they will be asked to vote for the remaining candidates.

We are extremely grateful to the sports editors of the national press that were the crucial part of the previous system. They are still closely involved, on a rotational basis, occupying three out of the 12 places. Their perspective and enormous wealth of experience is critical to the legitimacy of the shortlisting process.

I am in no doubt that the assembled panel will produce a shortlist that meets the criteria set down. The members of the panel bring a wide and diverse range of expert sporting knowledge through a combination of permanent seats and rotational participation.

When we reviewed the shortlisting process, a few people suggested that we should adopt two awards - male and female - whilst others have suggested there should be separate awards for Olympians and Paralympians.

We have decided to keep with tradition and not risk devaluing the success of any particular sportsperson, so we have retained the format that has served the nation well for 58 years, of one overall Sports Personality of the Year award.

The expert panel will also decide the Team of the Year, Coach of the Year and the Overseas Personality Award.

One of the most notable features of sport is the passion it instils as people discuss what they have watched, listened to or read. I can’t wait for the panel to convene and open up the debate over these awards. I hope a day will be long enough.

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