Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ian O'Connor has the typical PC post scolding the sports community for noticing that Danica Patrick, who finished fourth in the Indy 500, is attractive. He quotes Billie Jean King below...

When people talk about how we look," King said, "that's what kills us as athletes. Just once, talk only about our accomplishments. That's all we ask."

Apparently King and her court are asking for too much. Patrick had to be covered differently, as she delivered the best female finish ever at the 500. That's history. That's news. But the fact she might be described as a "babe" by a demographic overdosing on bimbo beer ads has nothing to do with her performance behind the wheel of a machine traveling 226 miles an hour.

I'm calling BS here. Do O'Connor and King really want Patrick to be covered just like previous fourth place finishers at the Indy 500? I couldn't name any of the last 5 Indy 500 winners let alone fourth-place finishers. In the sporting world, finishing fourth in the Indy 500 just isn't that grand an accomplishment.

You can't have it both ways -- you can't want special attention do be paid to Patrick because she's a woman, and then expect everyone to pretend not to notice she's attractive.

O'Connor goes on...

Ty Votaw, the LPGA commissioner, junked Title IX in favor of Titleist IX in 2003, ordering his players to improve their appearance and hiring hair stylists, cosmetics czars and fashion editors toward that end. Annika Sorenstam sat there and listened to the experts tell her how to look more attractive on the golf course. Could you imagine Tiger Woods being subjected to that?

Of course not. He's a man, and men only need to worry about birdies and bogeys and checkered flags.

Oh, BS again. You're telling me that every bit of Tiger Woods's appearance and public persona isn't meticulously managed and maintained?

I'm not buying the double standard argument -- image matters in men's sports as well. The NBA just gave the MVP award to a player who's all but useless on defense because he's a 6'1" white guy. Andre Agassi was always more popular than Pete Sampras, in spite of Sampras's superior record. Why isn't Bobby Abreu a household name? You don't think Tom Brady's good looks have helped him?

Just let the women burn rubber without telling the world how hot they looked doing it

Just let me watch the sports I want to watch, without lecturing me that I'm watching it for the wrong reasons.

Look, in an ideal world, would the coverage of Patrick wouldn't mention her looks. But Indy car racing isn't exactly the most popular spectator sport right now. The sportswriters are probably dropping these mentions hoping some folks will tune in because of it, then might get hooked on the action.

American sports fans have never taken too sports, or categories of sports they've been lectured to enjoy. Look at soccer. For years, we've been told how we Americans ought to be embarrassed that we don't share soccer enthusiasm with the rest of the world. And what's it gotten us? Failed league after failed league. It's gone the way of the metric system.

People watch sports for enjoyment not for social betterment. And a fourth place finish in the Indy 500 is not all that exciting in itself. If you want to attract viewers, eye candy might go further than spooning vegetables in our face.
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