When embattled LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks he was almost immediately chastised by the public even though he was part of the elite rich of California. After only hours of deliberation the National Basketball Association banned him from life and fined him $2.5 Million for comments he made in his own home that what he thought was a private conversation.
Just a year ago Paula Deen admitted to using a racial remark in her past that was somewhere around 50 years ago, and was overly apologetic about it. The comment was made decades previously before her fame for cooking, and was spoken in frustration over being robbed. However, she lost almost every endorsement and television deal with her name on it.
However, when Richard Petty has used sexist remarks against Danica Patrick repeatedly and unapologetically he has not even received as much as a raised eyebrow by the news organizations or NASCAR. This leads me to question whether sexism is being accepted as the standard in our nation’s only premier sports league that is open to both sexes. No other sport to include tennis, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, golf, or even beach volleyball are integrated with men and women competing on a level playing field as they are in NASCAR. But just as this behavior is appalled in the board rooms of our top companies so must it be in our sporting events.
Regardless of the number of NASCAR championships he has won, or that he is considered “the King” he has no right to question the skill of the only woman competing in NASCAR’s highest series. His cars and male drivers have not performed any better than she has, but they unlike her have not had to endure the national spot light or ridicule for mediocre performance. According to NASCAR and ESPN, he went on to say that the only way she would win a race is if everyone else were to not show up, and that he is proven not to be a sexist because he had been married to the same woman for 55 years until the recent passing of his beloved wife Linda. Just as the entire sport mourned her passing, we should be praising Danica’s fortitude and perseverance.
What Mr. Petty is failing to understand is that if she were just a number of in a pool of other female drivers his comments may be taken as constructive criticism of a Hall of Fame Driver. But under these circumstances, she is the only one and his comments are not constructive but hurtful to all parties and the sport of racing itself. There may come a day when a woman can compete in NASCAR without the sexual overtones of being the only female driver. But that is not now, and in my opinion we need to be supportive of every qualified woman driver and of the only integrated sport where all people can compete regardless of race or gender.