Every year it happens... and every year it leaves me feeling confused.
People - rational people, many of them people whose opinions I value - start talking about the Sports Personality Of The Year.
They ask who you think will win it, they tell you who they think will win it... and all the while, the assumption seems to be that this-is-important. That the competition matters. That it is the prize that people crave.
And I don't get it. I don't think it's important and more than that, I don't understand how any sportsman or sportswoman could think it was important either. It seems to me to be the antithesis of what sport is really about.
Sportsmen and women compete. In events that have tangible outcomes. They strive to be the best at what they do. And when all is said and done, the outcome speaks for itself.
If you set out to be a great cyclist, then world records, gold medals and yellow jerseys are surely your ultimate goal. What could possibly be more meaningful to Bradley Wiggins than winning the Tour de France? That's the proof that he was the best of the best in his chosen sport.
Sport isn't about being popular. It's about some combination of being the fastest, the strongest, the most accurate, having the best technique and/or the most tactically astute. It's about strength of will, determination and above all else, ability. It has nothing whatsoever to do with who we like.
Usain Bolt is a likeable character. But that would count for nothing on the global stage if he wasn't the world's fastest man. And if the world's fastest man just happened to be an out and out jerk that wouldn't matter either. We would admire his athleticism all the same.
I don't understand how anyone is supposed to compare the achievements of the twelve nominees - or indeed the achievements of those who could just have easily been nominated but weren't. It just seems ridiculous. And actually, just a tiny bit insulting. As if our opinion matters more than the sport itself.
Tennis players measure themselves against tennis players. Heptathletes measure themselves against heptathletes and swimmers competing in S6 events, measure themselves against other swimmers in S6 events. Anything else must surely be meaningless to them. Mustn't it?
Saying to those people, "I know you set out to achieve something huge and you succeeded, which is lovely... but now we're going to have a vote and let you know whether you were the best at being the best" makes us seem a bit full of ourselves doesn't it? Why on earth would they care?
"Yep, being the best in the world at your chosen event is all well and good... but is it really good enough... we'll have a vote and get back to you." It's a bit cocky isn't it?
Maybe it's all just a bit of fun. In which case, can people stop talking and writing about it as if it was important. And when I say that I don't care who wins, can people stop saying, "but it's the Sports Personality of the Year!" as if I hadn't understood the question in the first place. I know it is. That's why I don't care.