People – both men and women – will always feel irrational passion towards their favorites. Check out the level of the hatred toward some of the regular drivers in NASCAR, sometime; that has nothing whatsoever to do with what sex the driver is, or what sex the fans are. Racing fans, for some reason, seem to generate even more visceral emotion than the other sports; but generally, all sports involve some level of hatred, or envy, or lust, whether for individuals or teams. And yes, there are also women racing fans who hate certain male drivers, and love other male drivers. Where is the indignation about that? Oh, right, you can’t beat the feminist drum with that stick.

People – both men and women – will always use sex appeal as one factor (among many) in deciding who they appreciate in the athletic world. Some more than others, sure, and some maybe not at all. But in general, yes, this is part of the deal. And let’s not kid ourselves about women fans of men’s sports either – NFL players don’t wear super-tight pants because male fans like them that way.

So what is really wrong with people having passion for certain drivers, and hating other ones? What is wrong with some men ogling a nice looking female like Danica Patrick?

All pro sports — make that all smart, successful pro sports — market this side of their athletes. Because it brings fans in the door, and gets them to watch on TV.

Here’s a little known fact: a woman who looks good, and acts feminine (i.e., hetero) yet can still go out and drive the snot out of a race car, is an appealing image to a lot of guys. Probably some women, too. So this is bad … how?

And, really … message boards, to evaluate the attitudes of society? Please. What you’re seeing there is an Internet-skewed sample (i.e., young, male) of racing fans. It would be hard to Imagine a bigger group of testosterone-fueled maniacs.

Yet Patricia Babcock McGraw wants us to believe she is still shocked by all this.

And, in so doing, she seems to have joined some of the other media types and journalists lately, that are so annoyed by “bloggers”. What they really mean, quite frankly, is that they don’t like people “out there” that are so bold as to have Unvarnished Opinions.

Unvarnished Opinions are most unwelcome in the media world.

There, opinions are dispensed only by the Opinion Professionals, who have undergone intense training … well, they’ve gone to school and stuff. To earn, they seem to think, the right to think for us.

This attitude is coming out all over the place, from journalists today. And what it is really about is elitism.

Journalists, almost across the board, are pretty arrogant about the role they have in the world. And they aren’t afraid to tell us all about it. They really think we need them to sift through all the news of the day, and package it up nicely for mass consumption by the huddled masses. You know, me and you. Just ask Walter Lippmann.

They’re shocked — shocked, I tell you!! — that there are still people in the world who have not bought into all the latest trendy, progressive platitudes, such as, for example, that men in large numbers will watch women athletes purely for their athleticism, even if they aren’t “hot”.

Here’s a fact you can take to the bank: lots of guys would never, ever, in a million years, watch women do anything remotely close to sports. Unless, of course, it involved tight clothes, or lots of exposed flesh.

And the idea that only men could be shallow enough to evaluate a woman by her looks … do we really need to go there, girlfriend?

Some things just are the way they are. It’s the way of the world. And the idea that it needs to be changed, and pronto, is a fantasy.

And I speak as one who does watch women’s college (and even high school) basketball sometimes, and women’s tennis, and the occasional women’s volleyball or gymnastics. I just like these sports, and the women bring a different dynamic sometimes. I sort of enjoy the increased emphasis, for example, on fundamentals and passing in girls/womens basketball and the de-emphasis on street ball and gangstas and tattoos and trash-talking.

But if we’re being completely honest here, I have to tell you that if they dress in burlap burqas, I’m a little less likely to tune in.

If this makes me a horrible person, then to be consistent, we must be sure to castigate all the women fans who appreciate a little hetero male “hotness” in their athletes, sometimes, too. Right? Wouldn’t want any creepy sexual vibes to draw women tennis fans to watch Rafael Nadal, now, would we?

Q: Is it just a coincidence that the rise in the popularity of women’s tennis over the last 10-15 years just might have something to do with the distinct hetero vibe it gives off now, not to mention a fairly high “hotness” factor for some of the players? Prize money is way up; this is what Billie Jean King was complaining about all the time back in the 70s, wasn’t it?

Maybe the prize money would have been better back then if the women’s game wasn’t identified so closely with famous lesbians like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. To quote Jim Belushi in “About Last Night”: “too close to call”.

I hate to bring the whole lesbian vs. hetero issue in here, but a frank discussion requires it. Women’s sports that have embraced the lesbian vibe have failed. How are those WNBA ratings these days? That league explicitly markets to lesbians. Women’s golf? Not much going on there, although the butchiness factor seems a little lower than it once was. On the other hand, those women’s sports that have embraced the hetero vibe have succeeded – women’s tennis, basically.

And generally speaking, beyond the lesbian vs. hetero thing, “looks” matter too, at least to some degree. To men and women.

And if attractive athletes bring in fans, this is a good thing. If making players wear revealing garb causes fans to watch when they might not otherwise watch, this is a very good thing.

Try to imagine, say, the WNBA, wearing those crazy skin-tight uniforms that the Australian women’s basketball team used in the 2000 Olympics (or something like it – you get the drift). Do you think more men might watch? I do. Is there anything wrong with that, any more than there is something wrong with parading NFL players around in skin-tight pants? What is the difference, exactly?

Q: What is the one moment, that every single person who watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer team win the ’98 World Cup, remembers?

(cue Jeopardy theme…)

That’s right. It’s when Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt after the win.

Maybe women and girls liked it for their own reasons. But men liked it because it showed spunk, and flesh. Sex sells. Always has, always will.

So let’s review. McGraw uses Internet message boards to draw generalizations about men and their attitudes about women. Then she criticizes those men as not progressive enough for her unrealistic expectations. And all the while, ignores the possibility that (1) women can be just as guilty as men at all of the things she chooses to criticize here, and (2) there is really nothing wrong with any of it anyway — because it’s just sports — and (3) the idea that women will ever achieve “equality” in the world of professional sports world is a fantasy.

Other than that … nice piece! The article, I mean, not McGraw.

But hey, she is kinda hot. Wouldn’t want to offend her. Every woman likes to be complimented on her looks, right?