This is going to sound so strange coming from a woman who is trying to make her way in a man's world, but I have never been that enthralled by women's sports. I mean I get it, and there are times when I get caught up in the thrill of the competition. But just as a general statement, they just don't hold the excitement for me that men's sports do.
And at the danger of sounding like Will Ferrell in "Talladega Nights," I have all due respect for Danica Patrick. I never would hate on anyone's dream, and I give her all sorts of props for going out and getting it. I know as a woman I should be all excited about her breaking down yet another barrier for females. And I am, kinda. But, I just can't get that excited about Thursday's announcement.
If I were to offer up a driver in any series with one win in 6 seasons, how many of the top teams would be clamoring all over them? Better open wheel drivers have tried before, Sam Hornish, Patrick Carpantier, and so on. And they have all found little to no success in NASCAR. But yet here is Danica landing a ride at Stewart Haas Racing (basically, Hendrick equipment).
"The thing you see in her right away is how determined she is to be good at what she does," said Tony Stewart, one of the few drivers to make a successful transition from open wheel to NASCAR and the owner of the car Danica will drive in the Sprint Cup series. "She's very dedicated to take the time and the effort that I haven't seen a lot of guys do to make that transition."
I don't doubt that. You can tell that Patrick is a tough, hard nosed competitor. And I know that she strives to just be a racer, not the girl racer. Something I can certainly respect.
"You know my parents never let me think of myself as a girl in racing, they just wanted me to be the best," said Patrick. "And I think that has really made a difference in my life that I don't think of myself as being so much different."
It is a little embarrassing to see NASCAR's CEO, the president of Daytona International Speedway and even FOX Broadcasters racing to put out statements on her arrival. As someone noted today on twitter, I guess we missed that release last year for Andy Lally or even a few years back for Shauna Robinson.
“We are pleased Danica Patrick has chosen to race full time in NASCAR in 2012." Brian France, NASCAR's CEO said in his release. "She has demonstrated a strong desire to compete and NASCAR provides the best opportunity to race against the top drivers in the world with the largest and most loyal fan base in motorsports."
FOX analysis Larry McRenyolds added, "There’s no question it’s not only big for NASCAR, it’s big for sports in general. But it’s not just who she is but who she’ll be driving for."
Maybe my issue is less about Danica, and more about what her or Hope Solo or even Erin Andrews celebrity is about, style over substance. Not to say women in sports don't have substance, most have more guts and determination then the men. And I know from experience living in a man's world is not easy. It's just that style has become way more important in the culture of women in sports. Especially when it comes to who the stars are. There is no way that the female version of a Dale Earnhardt ever would get a ride in NASCAR. He was just far too unpolished.
Some will call me a bitter, jealous woman who doesn't want to see another woman succeed, especially an attractive one. That's what people always say when women criticise other women. That's why so few will ever do it. But actually, I hope Danica does well in NASCAR. It will not only be good for her, but also good for the sport I love. She is a tremendously popular driver whose fan base reaches far beyond the track. But just because I'm a girl, I don't have to be a fan. I'm just not that into Danica.