SA Sport Awards voting is flawed

2014-12-07 15:00

Before I begin, congratulations are in order for Banyana Banyana midfielder Portia Modise, who was the biggest winner at last Sunday’s SA Sport Awards.

Overall, the event is a brilliant item on the local sports calendar and I hope it remains for years to come.

But I’m afraid basic flaws in the voting process threaten to spoil the party. For starters, isn’t the public entitled to know how many votes went to the sports star of the year they had voted for?

Something in me says Modise should have been nominated for the sportswoman of the year award as well. Other nominees for the top accolade appeared across other categories, which justified their nomination for the R1?million award.

Also, leaving the public to vote for the overall sports star is worrying because such a crucial vote should mainly be informed by how well South Africans know their sports.

Modise’s award marked a milestone for women in sport, but truth be told, she is the latest to have scored big in the popularity stakes, making hers more of a “people’s choice” award than a bona fide recognition of her excellence on the pitch.

As much as Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula wants to recognise excellence, he must guard against flouting the awards rulebook. If the emphasis was on Modise reaching 100 goals for Banyana, her feat was way outside the window period. The awards’ rulebook stipulates that the judging period was from October 1 2013 to August 31 this year.

It is interesting that by becoming the first woman to win the annual award, Modise beat contenders whose accomplishments have been recognised by international sports bodies. Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers was named ODI player of the year by the International Cricket Council, while Chad le Clos was this week named among the International Swimming Federation’s best athletes.

Khotso Mokoena added the Diamond League long jump crown to the gold medals he snatched in the triple jump at this year’s Commonwealth Games and African Championships.

Four years of the awards have given Mbalula ample time to review the nomination and judging processes of his brainchild. It’s about time he introduces the “most popular sports star of the year” category for the public to vote for and tasks a panel of judges to decide on the sports star.

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