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Female Athletes: Unfortunately, Sex Appeal Is Part of Overall Success

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16:  Driver Danica Patrick arrives at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 20 at 9PM ET on ESPN.  (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
Kimberley NashSenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2017

If you are a woman, your professional success seems to hinge on two things: 1) your looks and 2) your ability to be marketed as the "girl next door"; no, not those girls next door, but rather the type of girl you take home to the barbecue on the Fourth of July to meet the parents..

Notice how neither of those two things have to do with a woman's professional ability within her sport.

The one thing that has become mind-numbingly clear to me is that women, by and large, are not respected in the sports world as professional athletes. They are seen as girls playing a man's game, and branded as some cute chick with athletic ability.

If they happen to be attractive enough to put on a poster or a magazine cover, then it is likely that their ASSets will be more prominently displayed than their stats.

It's the reason why Anna Kournikova could be more popular than Martina Hingis or Lindsey Davenport in her days as a WTA player. Reason being she was, for lack of a better word, "hot."

Kournikova has always contended that she was a serious tennis player, she was always about the game, but it's a fact that she made more money playing a model than playing her sport.

For a time, there were men who watched the sport just to see her.  Not to see her play, but to see her, drawing the ire of many a female tennis pro who was actually there to play the game...and win.

In Kournikova's defense, she was indeed talented, however, was never able to find enough consistency to become as successful at singles tennis as she was at doubles.  Further, the fact that she looks good is hardly her fault.

Which leads me to Danica Patrick, the Indy Racing Car League driver that took three years to win her first race on the circuit.

She's obviously a looker and every chance her handlers seem to get, they emphasize that beauty without prejudice.  Whether she's dressed in leather and draped over the hood of a car, or shilling for Target with a free-flowing red dress in tow,  she seems to have the eyes of everyone on her.

Truth be told, if I didn't know Danica was a race car driver, I wouldn't know what she did for a living.  I might take her to be just another model.


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