A fantastically memorable year in British Sport was rounded off with much applause and as ever, a certain amount of controversy as the 2013 New Year Honours list was announced. The New Year Honours hasn’t been so criticised since 2011 when Premiership referee Howard Webb was awarded with an MBE, assumingly for his services to Manchester United.
For those unsure about the Orders of the British Empire, here is a little summary to ease your queries: at the top of the spectrum are Knights and Dames (KBE/DBE), followed by Commanders (CBE), then Officers (OBE), and lastly Members (MBE).
This year’s list saw every single gold medallist from London 2012 awarded with an MBE. Several CBEs and OBEs were also handed out, whilst Ben Ainslie (sailing) and Bradley Wiggins (cycling) received Knighthoods and Sarah Storey (paralympic cycling) was made a Dame for their contributions to sports and sideburns (Wiggo).
…commentators have indicated that there is an imbalance…
David Weir (wheelchair athletics), Jessica Ennis (athletics), Mo Farah (athletics), Katherine Granger (rowing) and Victoria Pendleton (cycling) all received the next highest honour of CBE, whilst OBEs were awarded to Ellie Simmonds (paralympic swimming), Sophie Christiansen (paralympic equestrianism), Charlotte Dujardin (equestrianism), Jason Kenny (cycling), Andy Murray (tennis) and Laura Trott (cycling).
The Honours list may appear harmless enough and many will compliment the way in which every single gold medallist received an MBE, yet several journalists and commentators have indicated that there is an imbalance between the amounts of higher honours that Olympians received compared to those received by Paralympic athletes.
…Inconsistency seems to be the core issue…
As you can see above, for each type of honour, there were always more Olympic athletes present than Paralympic athletes. Inconsistency seems to be the core issue the complaints are centred around because as well as the lack of Paralympians receiving higher honours, questions arose as to why Weir did not receive a KBE despite having the same amount of gold medals as Sarah Storey.
Perhaps if the Honours list nominees came with more details then people would be less inclined to criticise it. If these Olympians partook in more charity work than their Paralympic counterparts and we were made aware of it, then their collection of higher honours would be less prone to scrutiny. Explanations are helpful; after all if we were not made aware of farcical goalkeeper David James’ extensive charity work, then we would assume that his MBE was given for his services to comedy, certainly not football.