Friday, February 22, 2013

2/22 (Danica) Quickie

It is hard to write about gender in sports without being patronizing. The story of the weekend is Danica starting in pole position at the Daytona 500, with as good of a chance of winning as anyone -- it is hard to overstate that it would be one of the most exciting results in sports history.

As nothing more than a casual NASCAR observer -- I usually catch one race a year, and it's Daytona (there is something about a sport starting its season with its biggest event that I like) -- I am absolutely rooting for Danica to win... rooting for history. I'd like to think that's not patronizing, but it's hard to say.

Meanwhile, the second biggest sports story of the weekend is Ronda Rousey breaking the gender barrier in UFC -- this is a long time coming, and a huge potential market for the sport and for women athletes. She has the charisma to carry this side of the sport -- Dana White's backing doesn't hurt -- and I hope that her debut on Saturday night is a smashing success.

In the end, Danica and Ronda draw attention as something between a novelty in sports dominated by men (for better or worse, that is where UFC is right now) and very real pivot points in sports history -- for Danica, especially.

Patrick established her bonafides years ago -- this weekend represents her best shot at winning on something close to the most level playing field out there.

You don't have to be committed to gender equality in society or the parent of a daughter or anything else to appreciate the history we have the chance to watch this weekend.


*NBA Trade Deadline: I have spent enough of this past season griping about Jordan Crawford that I was happy to see him shipped off to Boston, even if the Wizards gave him away -- that's how much I didn't like his game and his fit within the team. In fact, my griping about Crawford was something I came to resent even more because I would be openly disdainful of his play in front of my kids, who would ask why I was so annoyed -- it was a teaching lesson for them about not being a no-defense shot-jacker, but I didn't enjoy expressing that kind of frustration about a player in a way my kids might notice. So good riddance, Steez.

*Hawks don't trade Josh Smith: So he leaves this summer for nothing, although then the Hawks will have more than enough cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard or CP3.

*Kobe guarantees playoffs: What else did you expect him to say? Of course he guarantees playoffs.

*Spurs rout Clippers: Wasn't it cute the way everyone thought LA was an actual contender? There are two in the West: OKC and San Antonio. Everyone else is playing to make things interesting.

*Heat win 9th straight: The East is even more of a snoozer. Can we just fast-forward to June?

*NFL Combine: It has gotten bigger, yet seemingly even more antiseptic. We are reduced to reading coded messages from coaches who pop by for impromptu press conferences. The only thing that happened yesterday that I found intriguing was that I remain obsessed with Chip Kelly as an NFL coach, even if I couldn't care less about the Eagles.

-- D.S.

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