I was having a pleasant lunch yesterday afternoon (ok, the chicken panini was only so-so but the place was dry and warm unlike everyplace else I went) when I opened the sports page and found this headline in my local paper (but on an AP story): Danica fails to win consecutive titles.
Instant irateness and subsequent tirade ensued to which my eating companion defensively said "don't yell at me--I get it!".
First of all, the use of Patrick's first name in the headline is in keeping with the media's practice (not universal but still quite prevalent) of referring to female athletes by first name only which has the effect of inferiorizing them. Male athletes (with some notable exceptions such as Shaq) are referenced using their last names. [This practice exists in other areas as well. You don't know how many papers I used to get when I taught literature classes that mentioned Jane (as in Austen) or Sylvia (as in Plath).]
But of course the most annoying part of the headline and story was the fact that Patrick's non-first place finish this week was news. I was pleased, I suppose (because I don't care all that much about racing and have some issues with Patrick) that she finally won a race. The hype was a little bit much--I mean how many late-night talk shows do you have to go on when you win a race? So, in a sense I guess Patrick contributed to the fact that the news was her non-win this week. But it's sad because we would never, ever see a headline that read "(Last week's winner) fails to win consecutive titles." The story mentioned Patrick only briefly before launching into the real news which was the story of who really won and the details of the race.