Tennis star Andy Murray earns a nomination, having reached the final of the Australian Open this year and the semi-finals of three other grand slams.
Boxer Amir Khan, who is eight fights undefeated and will battle to retain the light-welterweight WBA and IBF world titles in December, is also shortlisted for the ceremony's top prize.
Golfer Rory McIlroy is in the frame for the award, after winning his first major title in a record-breaking US Open victory.
Cricketer Andrew Strauss will also compete for the public vote after captaining England to Ashes victory in Australia, and overseeing a series whitewash against India.
The other nominees are Strauss's teammate Alastair Cook, golfers Darren Clarke and Luke Donald, athletes Mo Farah and Dai Greene, and cyclist Mark Cavendish.
Other awards to be presented on the night include 'Team of the Year', 'Coach of the Year', 'Lifetime Achievement' and 'Sports Unsung Hero'.
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year, hosted by Gary Lineker, Sue Barker and Jake Humphrey, will be broadcast from Salford on Thursday, December 22 at 8pm on BBC One.
Watch jockey AP McCoy win BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2010 below: