Sport Comment: Sir Chris? Save the honours for when our sporting heroes retire

 
John Inverdale

A RISE Sir Andy Murray. Sir Chris Froome. Sir Alastair Cook. It was almost arise Sir Lee Westwood but for a masterful final round from Phil Mickelson at the Open yesterday. It’s going to be a busy time for the sporting honours committee when they sit down and ponder handing out the gongs in the New Year.

David Cameron has already called for our first Wimbledon singles champion in three decades to be knighted. Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins are waiting in cycling’s hall of fame for Sir Chris Froome, who must surely receive a similar accolade – why is his Tour de France win this year less remarkable than Wiggins’ 12 months ago? For Redgrave read Pinsent. If Cook leads England to a 5-0 victory over the Australians, no matter how poor the opposition, there will be those within cricket who will campaign for their man to join the ranks of Cowdrey and Botham. Too much. Too much. There is something amiss here.

Sport is fundamentally an egalitarian world. Players set themselves apart from the opposition by their deeds on the field of play. As they travel the world, they probably don’t need the added pressure of announcing themselves onto the stage with an arbitrary title with residual overtones of a colonial world that won’t resonate a great deal with Serbian tennis players or Colombian cyclists. At a lower level, having set the precedent a decade ago by honouring every single member of the victorious England Rugby World Cup squad, and then similar accolades for the Ashes squad of 2005, will all Cook’s men find themselves on a bus ride round London and a trip to the Palace? That’s fair enough but the players won’t find MBE after their names on every scorecard from Cape Town to Mumbai. Does Murray want to walk on court in Monte Carlo as Sir Andy or Froome ride in the Giro set apart from the crowd?

So, to all those involved in the decision making, a plea. Send all involved an email promising future gongdom. Allow them to remain plain old Andy and Chris and Alastair until the setting of their individual competitive suns. Leave them all something to look forward to in their retirements.