Danica Patrick made news this week by winning the pole position at the Daytona 500 this coming week. It’s a rare moment where we give her attention for something other than for a product she is marketing.
Let’s get this out of the way early: I do not begrudge her for one second. She has simply taken advantage of the world she lives in to make a nice living for herself. But to suggest she is due the attention she receives for her racing ability is dishonest. She has taken one checkered flag in an Indy series race and has yet to win a NASCAR race.
The fact she is competing in a man’s sport is a story. I get that and appreciate that. At some point though, when you are fighting for equality you have to prove yourself worthy of being talked about because of achievement. Otherwise, you’re just a circus sideshow.
Patrick only remains a story because she is a woman, and moreover, because she is an attractive woman. If she was Don Patrick, with the same career path, there would not be sponsors lined up around the block. There would not be media obsession. There would not be an enormous fan base. That’s just the truth.
I am not saying she doesn’t deserve to be popular, but in a way, I am. Does Anna Kournakova deserve to be more famous Justin Henin? Should Michele Wie be worthy of more attention than Yani Tseng?
With women, and sports, like it or not, looks play a humongous role. Pretty people sell things. If you sell things, it makes you more famous and richer.
Danica Patrick may go on to do great things and win many races. At that point, I will be in a big group heaping praise on her. Until then, she is just an ordinary driver. She has proven she is good enough to be in the sport. That only makes her just another guy. If she wants to be treated as more than just a pretty face, she needs to do something to necessitate me thinking in that manner.
Until then, she is famous only because she is a pretty girl in a man’s world.
Fair or not, that’s life. It’s not always to the victor go the spoils.