It’s a sports day, sports fans. As you may have heard, there’s this little media storm around Danica Patrick (www.danicaracing.com), a rookie driver in the Indy Racing League. Sure, she finished fourth in the renowned Indy 500, and actually led the race for a couple of laps – a first for a woman, by the way – but let’s face the facts. She’s never won a race. She’s not even the first woman driver in the IRL.
But she’s photogenic and, well, looks downright sexy when she’s draped across the hood of a racecar, as she was in a recent magazine spread.
Then there’s Annika Sorenstam (http://www.pgatour.com/u/ce/feature/0,1977,837190,00.html), the LPGA powerhouse who’s halfway to winning the Grand Slam and has 62 trophies to her credit. In fact, she’s won six of the last eight events she’s played.
Here’s what Philadelphia Inquirer (http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/) sportswriter Bob Ford had to say about the Danica v. Annika situation:
All of this says something about the nature of women’s sports in this country, about the insatiable shallowness of the marketing monsters. It also says that, unfortunately, when it comes to judging women, society is often less concerned with the proper application of logic than with the proper application of mascara.
Then there’s always Anna Kournikova, the tennis player who played more to the cameras than to her opponents.
And we all know that sports is driven by marketing dollars. Who will bring in more viewers? Danica pumped up ratings 40 percent. But my question is this: why can’t we bring in more viewers willing to watch skill over sex appeal?