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May 28, 2005


It is rare for a woman to make it today in men's sports. Generally, physical difference make it difficult for women to make it in professional sports, with rare exceptions, such as professional golf and minor league baseball. Men on the whole are just stronger, faster, and larger then women.

That makes the upcoming Indianapolis 500 all the more interesting. A 105-lb woman would not face the same physical disadvantage in a car race, only being likely to strategize differently in the race. No big deal, right? According to Robby Gordon, wrong.

Gordon argues that Danica Patrick has an unfair advantage, weighing approximately half that of most of the other racers. The light Indy Racing League cars run faster with less weight, which does give Ms. Patrick a strategic advantage. However, this is not unlike most other sports. At around seven feet, Randy Johnson has a huge advantage over other pitchers, with a lever for an arm. A 19 year old swimmer will likely have an agility advantage (though an experience disadvantage) on a 40 year old. And, let's face it, what 180 lb quarterback wants to face the prospect of a 300 lb defensive lineman charging at him?

There are natural differences that come up in sports, and opponents have to learn how adjust for them. Based on Gordon's logic, he should have just as much difficulty dealing with an opponent who weighs 50 pounds less, or 30 pounds, or even 10. Gordon's boycott of any IRL races involving Patrick is immature and paints him as a wuss.

Personally, I've never been a big fan of racing (certainly not falling into the conservative southerner stereotype there), but it gets harder to look at the sport in a positive light when some of its competitors whine like little children over a little adversity.