Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sorry Rednecks

Danica Patrick raced into the record books this weekend at the Indianapolis 500. But not because of her fourth-place finish in the race. Instead, Patrick's four-hour journey at the Brickyard was the longest a woman driver has gone without using her cell phone.

Alright, the jokes are a little stale by now.

But there is a linger question. Is auto racing a sport? What other sport would have a woman dominate during her rookie season? Horse racing? The fact that Patrick was able to not only compete, but come dangerously close to winning the sport’s premiere event should prove to rednecks once and for all that auto racing is not a sport.

This isn't a sexist view. Patrick, and other women, deserves every opportunity to be involved with racing and her skills merit her accomplishments. But you can't imagine a 5-foot-2, 100-pound woman coming off the bench to lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

(Though Doug Flutie might prove us wrong this season).

Auto racing takes a lot of skill and dedication over a lot of years. It's just not a sport. Patrick proved that this weekend.

PATRICK EQUALS RATINGS

There are critics that claim that Patrick will become the Tiger Woods of auto racing and point to ABC's 40 percent ratings jump as proof to this claim. Interesting point. But how many new viewers were tuned in with hopes of watching Patrick crash her car?

Probably all of them. Patrick will no doubt spark a lot of interest in the activity and a lot of young girls will take an interest in auto racing.

Will auto racing ever become a national passion? Probably not. Nascar supporters always point to ratings and interest to claim that it's the number two sport in the world. (Which we all know is impossible since it isn't a sport). But those numbers also fall in line with President George Bush's approval ratings. Meaning, that Bush and auto racing will always placate the lowest common denominator in the red states and will never capture the nation's consciousness.

The Indy 500 and Nascar's biggest race (whatever that is) will never become a national event like the Super Bowl or the World Series. Say what you want about baseball being in decline, but the World Series is still the freaking World Series and people will care about it.

Auto racing will never achieve that. Arena Football has a better chance of doing it, but that's not going to happen either. The Indy 500 needed a gimic with Patrick's first race to garner any interest. But once Patrick begins to dominate and blow away the competition (which she will), then the Indy 500 will slink back into obscurity once again.

JERED WEAVER SIGNS

Weaver finally signed with the Angels for $4 million, considerably less than his agent Scott Boras had initially hoped for. It's too bad that the commissioner has been neutered of all of his authoritative powers because the banishment of Boras might be in the "best interest of baseball."

Boras hijacked Weaver's career for one season, a season that he will never get back in his life. Baseball players are playing with a limited career and any time away from their craft can be devastating. Boras might be able to bleed clubs for some extra dollars for his clients, but at what expense to the younger players?

Boras, as far as public interpretation goes, caved in this negotiation and wasted a year of Weaver's life. Yeah, that's in the best interest of the sport.

And what chance does Weaver really have with the Angels fans? Weaver is a good kid with a bad agent. But the fans won't make that distinction. They will perceive Weaver as greedy and his every move will be scrutinized in Anaheim for the rest of his career. Weaver is starting in a no-win situation and will be given little, if any, leway with the fans.

And all for a couple of extra bucks.

Hope it was worth it, Scott.

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