Response to Fox Anchor's Offensive Danica Patrick Comment

5 years ago

The sports world was rocked last week by yet another offensive verbal blunder after a news anchor went on a sexist tirade against NASCAR driver Danica Patrick. Fox sports announcer, Ross Shimabuku, stopped just short of referring to Patrick as a b---- during an on-air broadcast before her Sprint Cup debut in Monday's Daytona 500.

Shimabuku, of Fox 5 in San Diego, showed a video clip of Patrick at NASCAR Media Day, where she complained the media always describe female athletes such as herself as "sexy."

"Is there any other word that you can use to describe me?" she asked. When the broadcast came back to Shimabuku, he said: "Oh, I've got a few words … Starts with a 'B', and it's not 'beautiful.' "

In his introduction to the piece, Shimabuku says sarcastically: “Danica Patrick is such a pretty girl and she makes a lot of money in sponsorships because of it. But what's not attractive is that she's sexy and she knows it."

He ended his segment with one last jab, saying the 29-year-old former IndyCar "always has a chip on her shoulder, trying to prove something."

One of the sportscaster’s colleagues clearly didn’t agree with him, as anchor Kathleen Bade stuck up for Patrick: “Well, she’s a woman trying to break into a man’s world,” she said adamantly. “Being a pioneer is never easy.”

ESPN recently fired editor Anthony Federico and suspended TV anchor Max Bretos for a month after they used the phrase “chink in his armor” referring to New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin.

It didn't take long for Shimabuku to say he was sorry and the anchor apologized on air Tuesday. Fox 5 tweeted Shimabuku was suspended for a week without pay for his comments about Patrick.

The discrepancy in punishments begs a series of other questions about propriety. While Shimabuku is at a Fox affiliate and Bretos is at ESPN, it is interesting to note the difference in suspension lengths for the two anchors.  Bretos’ comments were in the course of an unscripted, on-air conversation and Shimabuku’s comments were clearly premeditated and derogatory. One gets a week suspension and the other is suspended for a month. Does that say something about the perceived importance of female athletes vs. male athletes?

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, WSF Senior Director of Advocacy, responds to the offensive comment and others like it:

“The Women’s Sports Foundation supports Danica Patrick’s public reminders that she is an accomplished competitor, and calls for comparable punishment for all types of slurs made against competitive athletes. Ross Shimabuku, a Fox announcer, called Danica Patrick the “B Word… and it isn’t beautiful” in response to Ms. Patrick’s request to the media to be described with adjectives other than “sexy”. His reprimand should be in line with announcers calling any athlete a bigoted name, such as when an ESPN anchor used an offensive phrase referring to Jeremy Lin. The name calling belittles women athletes, and challenges their rightful place as members of the athletics community.”

What do you think? Given the circumstances were the punishments fair? Is misogyny  more socially acceptable than racism?


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