Stop the petition fury

Tyson Fury has been accused of homophobia
Furious Tyson Fury's anti-gay views are the subject of a Change.org petition. Image Pictures Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

As the boxer who ended Wladimir Klitschko’s reign as heavyweight boxing champ, Tyson Fury should have statues built in his honour and parks named after him.

That won’t happen because, as fight fans already knew, Tyson Fury is clearly a massive chump. Not that we’d ever say that to his face, obviously.

Nonetheless, Fury’s views on homosexuality are clearly disgraceful. In essence, Fury believes gay sex is wrong and the work of the devil.

Fury’s views are hateful, wrong and stupid. But does that mean there inevitably has to be a Change.org petition to have him removed from the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year shortlist? No.

Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury
Heavyweight boxing chump Do Fury's unpleasant views mean he should be blackballed?

Change.org petitions are, in general, filled in by people who get a smug, self-righteous kick out of protesting. Change.org never really caused anything to actually change but, hey, look at me telling the Government they’re wrong about uni fees. That’ll bring down Cameron!

Ineffectiveness aside, is there really any point protesting about the BBC SPOTY award? Look at some of the previous winners. Princess Anne and Zara Philips have won it by virtue of being royal. Michael Owen and Lewis Hamilton don’t even have a personality to share between them, yet they’ve both triumphed. Nor does Ryan Giggs, and he’s a massive loverat to boot.

Homophobia is obviously more unpleasant than Owen’s crime of being a dullard who ruins BT Sport on a weekly basis. But the 50,000 people signing Change’s petition are taking SPOTY far too seriously. It’s not Fury’s job to be a role model as a human being. It’s his job to punch people really hard, and he’s clearly excellent at that.

To be fair, people trying to excuse Fury’s bigotry are just as misguided. Religious beliefs are never, ever an excuse for hatred. Those who seek to absolve Fury from blame because of his poverty-stricken upbringing are themselves guilty of prejudice: there are plenty of poor people who don’t hate gay sex, thanks. Especially those who have seen enough of the world, like Fury, to have experienced many different cultures.

Fury is, to reiterate, probably not someone you’d want to have a drink with. But, as the BBC have said in their statement rejecting the Change petition, the SPOTY award is dished out on the basis of sporting excellence. And on that basis, Fury deserves his chance.

We’re still voting for Andy Murray, mind.

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Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn

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