It’s getting closer to Christmas, which means kids are getting excited, neighbours are trying to outdo each other with ever-more elaborate light displays and frustrated dads are kicking their heels in supermarket aisles waiting for their other halves to finish whatever it is they are doing.
Christmas also means the annual BBC love-in of the Sports Personality of the Year awards, which will be broadcast on Sunday. As well as being a celebration of the year’s standout sporting feats, it is also a chance for punters to make what should be some easy money – if second-guessing the Great British public has ever been easy. But by looking around for clues, we can generally find some handy angles in.
You, the Public, Will Speak
So first things first, what is the profile of people that votes in these kinds of TV shows? It is the young and the working class typically, commonly northerners sticking together, that get on the blower or fire up their tablets to vote in Strictly, I’m a Celebrity, X Factor and the like. Identifying this pattern led us to a 15/8 winner (Newcastle’s Scarlett Moffatt) and 12/1 (Adam Thomas) each way place in I’m a Celeb just a week or so ago, so it’s a formula that has treated us well thus far.
Obviously we must re-evaluate this in a sporting context. In 2015 Kevin Sinfield picked up second place in SPOTY, which may have raised a few eyebrows, but remember Rugby League is, generally speaking, a northern working class sport – which ticks our voting boxes.
What else do we know? Certainly that Olympians do well; in 2012 the top three was made up of gold medallists – Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray – so that is an obvious angle in.
Many votes in these kinds of show are spontaneous – the voting public wooed by an emotional-led video montage package. Because that’s how society operates these days, right? It’s called emotion porn, and is another obvious angle in here.
Having enjoyed the best year of his career – and probably his life – Andy Murray is surely a shoe-in for SPOTY 2016. He won both Wimbledon and the Olympic Games, reached the final of two other Grand Slams and dethroned Novak Djokovic as tennis’ number one.
The emotional vote? Murray’s partner Kim gave both birth to their first child earlier this year, and it will only take the Scot a soundbite or two about ‘how fatherhood changed my life’ for the voting public to be driven into action.
So yes, Murray at 1/8 is as sure-fire a bet as you will make this weekend.
The Other Contenders
In any betting market where there is a huge odds-on favourite there are opportunities for others, and so backing another contender or two either each way or in the ‘Without Murray’ market, which bet365 and others are running, is wise.
So let’s remind ourselves of our criteria here:
- An Olympic Gold Medallist
- Possibly northern, working class or ‘down to earth’ (another favourite with the voters
- Emotion-led, if possible
- Achievements which make for persuasive video montage
Who fits the bill then? Certainly the golden couple of the British efforts at the summer Olympics, Jason and Laura Kenny (nee Trott). They delivered multiple golds for Team GB and, in a twist that will delight the voters, have played out a very public love affair, getting married earlier this year. Expect gushing speeches about love and ‘he/she always believed in me’ – lovely stuff.
At 7/4 (Laura) and 22/1 (Jason) to finish in the top three, we’ll be weighing in with a decent-sized wager on Laura Kenny to secure another podium finish in 2016.
Which sports tend to do well in SPOTY? Here’s a full breakdown of the last five years: Tennis (2x 1st, 1x 3rd – disclaimer: all Murray), Athletics (1x 2nd, 3x 3rd), Cycling (2x 1st) and Golf (2x 2nd). As you can see, no footballer has finished inside the top three at any point in the last five years.
Danny Willett could be a contender with golf contingent after his win at the Masters, but clearly in an Olympic year the athletes tend to flourish. Alistair Brownlee, triathlete gold medallist, ticks that box and who can forget when he helped brother Jonny over the finish line at the World Series – ending his own hopes of winning the race?
Yep, those fickle voters love a show of familial love, and so the 8/11 on Brownlee in the ‘Without Murray’ market is a must bet.