The most common misconception about the determining of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is that it has anything remotely to do with personality. Unable to take nominees out for a meal or a day at the races, viewers must judge each sporting achievement on its individual merits. Character may act as a tiebreaker for members of the public but the prize does not reward the most affable. When the list of previous winners includes the less than personable Steve Davis, Sir Nick Faldo and Damon Hill among others, don't try convincing anyone the crown is based on the qualities of an after-dinner speaker.
Bar superficial magazine shortlists, such trivial aesthetics have never played a part in the winning of any award worth its salt. Voters and panels reward tangible assets and those invested are not swung by such phony details. In such instances, it means fundamental human traits may be overlooked at the expense of reaching the correct result. But in 2015, that is set to change.
Tyson Fury's place as one of the 12 nominees for the 62<sup>st edition of the prestigious BBC prize, from a sporting perspective, is undeniable. Dethroning Wladimir Klitschko as the unified heavyweight champion and ending the Ukrainian's nine-year stranglehold on the division is easily one of the finest British sporting achievements of the decade, and certainly the year. Alongside fellow-world champions and record breakers, Fury has earned his place.
But the Manchester-born boxer will not win. He will not even figure in the top three and is very likely to be last when the votes are counted. Perhaps motivated by Lewis Hamilton's Instagrammed dog which helped him overcome Rory McIlroy in 2014, Spoty has been turned into a popularity contest and one that Fury will find impossible to win. Following a series of questionable comments made before and after his victory in Dusseldorf, the 26-year-old finds himself at the centre of a storm which is threatening to overshadow his achievements in the ring.
The criticism of Fury's prehistoric, ignorant and dangerous comments, not least his intimidating of one newspaper journalist, has been entirely justified. Allowing the chauvinism of his boxing persona to bleed into his opinion on sensitive subjects, coupled with his lack of remorse, is shocking conduct for a sportsman in his privileged position. Many who have tracked the career of the unbeaten Fury and then celebrated his crowning achievement in Germany, many of them likely to be youngsters, have been exposed to a hateful human being.
Fury's response to such disapproval has been typically reproachful. Critics can "suck my b***s" according to the heavyweight trained by uncle Peter Fury when ask whether he regretted the comments – which included a remark regarding fellow sports personality nominee Jessica Ennis-Hill. The response to such arrogance has been a petition signed by over 80,000 people at the time of writing, to have Fury removed from the voting for the ceremony on 20 December. The BBC have pledged to retain the fighter on the shortlist, but the outrage continues.
What the broadcaster has crucially remembered is that the award marks sporting prowess, not moral awareness. Shortlists for such awards have traditionally disregarded even the most glaring of deficiencies; think Vladimir Putin and Sepp Blatter's nominations for the Nobel Prize. Fury, in terms of the conspicuousness of his flaws, is no different.
It appears strange that the many thousand who have signed the petition and spoken out against Fury with regard to his place on the sports personality nominee shortlist will profess to having an acute moral compass, when the sport which he competes in can be so easily lampooned. Boxing's brutality, while it attracts a niche though devoted fan base, ostracises large sections of the sporting public and contributes to keeping it away from prime-time terrestrial television. As far as taking the moral high ground goes, the very nature of boxing coupled with its sensationalist marketing means attacking the dubious characters within it should be a minor concern.
The BBC have constantly come under criticism for the role and the importance of the sports personality honour. Whether it be the ticket prices for the event, the cringeworthy highlights packages or the onus being put on sports only covered by the corporation, it nevertheless proves that the award and the role it plays does matter. But it is important to remember that it is only an award ceremony. If Fury wants to reignite his bid to become the MP for Morecambe, then the debate regarding his views on wider issues can be heard.
At the moment he is merely in contention to take home a silver-plated four-turret lens camera on a black plinth with David Beckham's name on it, which he claims he has no interest in winning anyway such has been the furore. Given Fury's questionable behaviour in the lead-up to his fight with Klitschko, perhaps our energy would be better directed towards sympathising with a man who has shown symptoms of mental illness which is engrained in other areas of his family. Perhaps personality is important.