Politics & Policy

Playing The Game, Not The Victim Card

Danica Patrick has a winning attitude.

It’s absurd when smart, talented people want to be victims more than victors.

The most obvious example comes from this past academic year, when feminist hysterics followed Harvard president Larry Summers hypothesizing about “innate differences” between men and women and how these differences might explain the lower number of women in science. One Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, Nancy Hopkins, walked out of his lecture–she couldn’t even listen. She would have “either blacked out or thrown up” had she stayed.

So professional.

There will be no smelling salts needed on the racetrack, however. Danica Patrick is no Nancy Hopkins. And that’s pretty refreshing.

Patrick is the chick race-car phenom. The first woman ever to take the lead at the Indianapolis 500, the 23-year-old rookie driver came in fourth in the Memorial Day weekend race this year.

Patrick can speed to the head of the pack. And her success is killing feminists because she won’t cooperate with them.

After the Indy 500, Patrick was immediately linked to Title IX, a gender-equity law that is commonly and harmfully considered sacred.

The topic of Title IX may just be the point where most sports fans flip to another ESPN channel, but some male athletes only wish they could turn it off. The 33-year-old law, which originally intended to simply assure fairness in education, has become a tool for quotas in high school and college sports through a series of Clinton-era add-ons. Senseless proportionality requirements have ended more than one boy’s wrestling and track dreams.

Feminists wedded to Title IX quotas “Bronx cheer” the Bush administration as it dares to consider reforming the law and actually leveling the playing field a little. (Which, contrary to the impression feminist critics would give you, the Bushies have been in no rush to do–making only minimal changes to date.) The village of twisted sisters would rather raise a generation of victims, girls who were told they could get ahead by undercutting men–and cry foul if they don’t get their way.

Some women athletes cooperate, happy to become poster girls for a we-girls-would-lose-without-Big-Brother attitude. When the U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup in 1999, Brandi Chastain’s stripping down to her sports bra served to “validate” Title IX, as one sportswriter recently put it (in a Danica story). But the World Cup victory can’t be so easily linked to Title IX, many of the players having benefited from private club sports, not school-sponsored extracurriculars. And they’re not the only gals for whom Title IX and its current quotas are irrelevant. Afraid George Bush is going to clobber your daughter’s hoop dreams? Don’t be. There are 64 Division I gals’ teams in the NCAA tournament and they all existed before 1979. Never mind 1996, when Title IX became brutal. Talks of a Republican “attack” on women’s sports are the fantasies of women glued to false victimhood.

Instead of getting a clue, feminists rather also ludicrously whine that women athletes get “second-class status” in the media. The guy who came in No. 3 at the Indy 500, who didn’t get front-page treatment in the New York Times the next day, might have a different opinion.

Who wouldn’t rather their daughter look up to a sports star who works hard and plays fair than one who is so lacking in self-confidence that she thinks insists on special rules–a tilted playing field–to win?

As for Danica Patrick–would you be surprised to learn there aren’t a whole lot of racecar competitions on college campuses? Outrageous!

Some determined women ominously warn that the future will be devoid of Patricks or Williams sisters at Wimbledon if the patriarchy has its way. (Never mind that Serena and Venus are daughters of their coach dad, not Title IX. Ditto for Jennifer Capriati, who told a reporter in 2002, “I have no idea what Title IX is.”)

The truth seems to matter to Danica Patrick, who refuses to play these typical women’s sports victim games. When a Newsweek interviewer recently asked her “Are you the Gloria Steinem of racing?” Patrick replied, “The what? I don’t even know who that is. Is that bad?”

Far from bad, Danica–you’re doing fine without her. Patrick’s a good driver and she knows it. To her credit, Patrick’s success has been without the help of any watered-down rules. And, sure, some guys will give her a hard time, as some have. So what?, she says; it “doesn’t really matter because I’m racing in the Indy Racing League.” In other words: She’s doing what she wants to do and singing her own tune while doing it. And, yes, she’ll “settle” for the cover of Sports Illustrated–which she’s been on. Ms. she can prosper without.

(c) 2005, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.


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