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Monday, February 18, 2013

The fact that Danica Patrick is female doesn't matter; so why is the media focusing so much on it?

I'm a bit confused, I have to admit.

See, maybe I'm just a bit more evolved as a person than many others, but I long ago stopped seeing Danica Patrick as some chick who races. Sure, she dresses up for awards shows and does soft-corn porn ads for GoDaddy on occasion, but over the past two years I've become accustomed to viewing Danica Patrick as a racecar driver. Period. Not a lady, female, woman-type driver; just a driver.

Just like any other driver, male or female, if she does good she deserves congratulations and if she does poorly by her own fault she deserves criticism. But nowhere in this commenting on her do I really care about the fact that she is a woman.

So I have to admit that it's a bit puzzling to see the non-motorsports media's reactions to her winning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500.

Almost every single headline I saw across all media read something like this: "Danica Patrick becomes first woman to win a pole position in NASCAR's top series."

Don't get me wrong -- I recognize that it's historic. But what concerns me is that instead of writing stories about what Danica has done in her time in NASCAR and how she has improved as a driver along the way to make this possible, they went for the simple, stupid story. She's a chick, and she was faster than the boys.

Call me too-hip if you want, but I think that's an old-fashioned attitude. As I said before, I'm past that phase of how I view Danica. Sure, it was a novelty at first that she was female, but now it's been years that she's been competing against the boys. That's not a new story.

So to sum up this rant, I'll just say this: While I don't deny that there is some sort of merit to making this story about milestones and gender barriers being broken and blah, blah, blah. ... I maintain that the bigger story here is that Danica Patrick is starting to become a decent driver in NASCAR, which if you saw her lackluster Cup efforts last year and even her Nationwide runs, means she has come a long way. This is something to focus on that would grip readers and viewers -- an underdog story of the girl who overcame the odds and now can compete with the best of them, at least in qualifying and practice so far

But that would require too much thought and research for some journalists apparently -- to them, it's about "girl beats the boys" -- which I find to be a sad commentary on the media as a whole.

Like Danica said herself: She doesn't want to be the best female racer, she wants to be the best racer, period. Given that fact, it might help if the media would quit fixating on the fact that she is female.

Danica won what?

Also, while I'm here, I'd like to clear up anyone who have gotten things confused after Sunday's Danica pole win.
Many folks outside of the know -- including NFL QB Donovan McNabb -- mistakenly congratulated Danica for winning the Daytona 500. "A for effort" Donovan, but it's moments like this when I realize that 98 percent of the world has no clue about anything relating to motorsports. Not sure why they even try to weigh in on these matters.

My other favorite thing in the wake of this is that all the major news broadcasts heralded this by saying things like this, which I heard on ABC's nightly news: "Now that she won the pole, she has a good chance to win the race"
In reality, any of us who have watched a race at Daytona know that due to drafting, the person who wins the pole might not even lead a single lap all race, and could end up 43rd as easily as they could end up 1st. I know the exposure is good for the sport, don't get me wrong, but do a little fact-checking before you spout off random predictions, please.

3 Comments:

Blogger Michael Primavera said...

i'm glad someone else thinks this way. Our local ABC in Syracuse covered this story on the news. "Danica becomes first women to win pole at Daytona." Ok, yeah. She's a girl, who cares. She is a good driver. Yahoo! had the same headline. Think of something else to say other than her gender.

February 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM 
Blogger Michael Primavera said...

i'm glad someone else thinks this way. Our local ABC in Syracuse covered this story on the news. "Danica becomes first women to win pole at Daytona." Ok, yeah. She's a girl, who cares. She is a good driver. Yahoo! had the same headline. Think of something else to say other than her gender.

February 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not politically correct but why would it be possible for a woman to compete straight up with a man? Name one competition where any woman has become a champion competing against men? Take the Olympics no woman has ever had an Olympic record better than the men's record in any sport. No woman has ever one a marathon, golf tournament or even a billiards championship competing in a man's division. It's not about strength either. Women frequently get better than 99% of average men's performances but if competing against the best 0.1% of men they are never victorious, so what makes Danica special enough to beat any other woman who came before her. Wishing she can do it will not make it happen.

February 26, 2013 at 4:14 PM 

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