I happened to catch an ESPN segment this morning featuring Indy Car sex kitten, Danica Patrick. Wow! The accomplished driver seems to have set her sights on becoming her "sport’s" answer to Anna Kournikova. She’s done fashion spreads, pin-up calendars and all sorts of other promotional events attired in very revealing togs. In doing so, Patrick has become a crossover star and has the potential to rise to genuine pop icon status.
But what are the image and reputation implications of her marketing machinations? What must her fellow "good old boy" drivers think of Ms. Patrick’s tabloid spreads? Does it demean or cheapen their efforts? Or, does the heightened awareness she generates benefit one and all? The Indy Car circuit has to love Danica since she obviously appeals to a totally different demographic (she certainly caught my attention).
But, what message is she sending to young girls? Is Patrick, like Kournikova before her, saying that it’s ok to cash in on one’s looks? Is Danica saying we should "….make all you can while you can?"
Today’s athletes rebel at any suggestion that they are role models for our nation’s youth. For the most part, athletes believe they should do what pleases and rewards them, and to hell with everyone else. Obviously, there are exceptions. But, the exceptions are becoming increasingly rare.
It’s a sad state of affairs. And, it only seems to be getting worse.