Chris Holt Column: Keep Tyson Fury on SPOTY shortlist and just let the public decide if his offensive comments matter

Tyson Fury makes his point
Tyson Fury makes his point
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The criteria for determining the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year contains the following: “Takes into account ‘impact’ over and beyond the sport or sporting achievement in question.”

It’s fair to say that Tyson Fury has made an impact... whether or not that is a positive thing is certainly up for question.

A petition has been drawn up calling on the BBC to remove Fury from their shortlist of 12 (it’s normally 10 but he and Andy Murray were added late due to Fury’s achievement and the tennis star’s success in leading Britain to David Cup triumph) to run for the broadcaster’s top sporting prize, citing the boxer’s homophobic views as reason enough to have him pulled.

A Mail on Sunday article last month quoted the 27 year old self-styled ‘gypsy king’ as saying: “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia. So who would have thought in the 50s and early 60s that those first two would be legalised.”

So the offensive checklist has homophobia ticked off. What else, if needed?

Sexism and misogyny? Stick that on, too.

Our own Jessica Ennis-Hill was next to bear the brunt of Fury’s crass ‘personality’ when the boxer featured in a video saying of the Sheffield athlete - a world and Olympic champion, no less: “That’s the runner, isn’t it? She’s good, she’s won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well, When she’s got a dress on she looks quite fit.”

Also, when asked about women boxers he offered the contradiction: “I’m all for it. I’m not sexist I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.”

There we have two isms that, if the Beeb were honest with themselves, would see any of their employees sacked should they have been caught uttering anything near as offensive.

Yet they are happy for the person making the statements to be given the opportunity to win what remains a remarkably talked-about annual award, given it has largely become an irrelevance since the BBC began losing the right to broadcast many of the biggest sporting events.

You have to wonder how different their stance would have been had race been the focus of Fury’s dangerous comments.

But even taking all of this into account, Fury SHOULD stay on the shortlist, for his accomplishment in beating a man, in Wladimir Klitschko, who has dominated the heavyweight division for a decade is incredible.

And if you don’t want him to win, then vote for someone else, or, indeed, don’t vote at all.

One of two things will happen as a result of the public vote:

n Fury will finish way down the pecking order and, not that he will really care anyway, it will be shown up that his outrageous, disgusting views have hampered how people view him, because his sporting achievement is every bit as impressive, more so in a lot of cases, than most of those also in the running.

n He will win it, or at least feature high enough up the voting, to show that the people of the United Kingdom care little about what a sportsperson says or does outside of their chosen arena. In that case, well-meaning folk who draw up petitions such as the one calling for Fury to be axed, would sadly be best concentrating their ire elsewhere.

For what it’s worth, I think the former will happen because people maintain this unrealistic belief that sportspeople have to have ‘role model’ etched alongside their names.

Doctors are role models; teachers are role models; politicians are, or at least should be, role models. Sports stars are not

The only people who should really be looking up to Tyson Fury are his own two children and it’s up to him which beliefs he wants to pass onto them.

If he wants to bring his daughter up to think the only thing she is good for is making a good cup of tea, then that’s up to him.