Dear NBC Sports: It wasn’t broke… so why did ya “fix” it?

It’s a rather daunting task for a female reporter to step into a new spotlight roll, in a male dominated business, while covering a male dominated sport.

Lindy Thackston made the correct choice right out of the gate, making a name for herself as an intelligent, articulate, personable, journalist, covering the sights, sounds and stories of the drivers, the series, and the action, both on and off the track.

Lindy, who is a beautiful girl by the way, was smart not to allow the suits to paint her into the “lets throw to the bimbo with the microphone for a lifestyle segment” role. Why? Because there is nothing more insulting to a female who follows the sport, than to be faced with the token eye candy dumbing down the broadcast, while playing into the stereotypes we’ve all fought way too hard to overcome. It’s disrespectful on far too many levels to go into.

Understandably wary of the “new talent” when she was announced as part of the broadcast team, I was pleasantly surprised and immediately put at ease after the first race.

What I liked about Lindy right off the bat was that this girl knew her shit!
She asked the right questions, followed up with the right answers, and never seemed flustered or flighty. She never apologized for being herself (and had no reason to) She fit in perfectly right away, and never dimmed her light. Confidence personified. Instead of cringing when they threw to her, I looked forward to her contributions, as I felt I finally had a voice representing me at the track.

To then meet up with her at the track, and work along side of her, I got to see her in action up close. She was just one of the team, not overly concerned with image (no bullet proof make up on this girl) and could be seen huffing along pit lane with her crew to get the story, just like the rest of us.

Years ago, as rare as it was to find a women in the cockpit, it was rarer still to find a woman in any other capacity at the track other than grid girl or pit lizard.

Now we are everywhere. And we are working our asses off alongside the boys, on both sides of the pit wall, equally sweaty, equally skilled, but putting in double the effort just to be accepted and prove we deserve to be there.

We are finally to the point where females at the track are no longer an anomaly. Better yet, they are getting recognition for what they do and the skill with which they do it, not because of the underwear beneath their nomex, or what’s stuffed inside of it.

Much like Lindy, Simona de Silvestro made a name for herself right out of the gate last year by scrapping with Tony Kanaan at St. Pete’s for the last step on the podium. There were no swimsuit photos or tacky commercials filled with sexual innuendo to throw to when discussing her career. Instead there were clips of gutsy racing and podium ceremonies that preceded and lead to her turning a wheel in this series. I would like to think this will serve her well in her career as she won’t be trying to fight her way out of a box painted by years stereotyping and misconception. More importantly she will be an inspired role model for the young women working their way up through the ranks now.

Like Simona, Lindy is a superior role model for the smart, confident young women dreaming of a career in our sport. Specifically, in her case, in broadcast journalism. What message is NBC Sports sending by turning the broadcast once again into a sausage fest.

For three years, three crucial rebuilding years for the series, and foundation laying years for Versus, Lindy Thackston has been part of the Versus/IndyCar family.
She helped champion the sport. She helped champion the network. She helped grow the fan base for both. She was an integral part of the team we all welcomed into our livingroom every week. By virtue of who she is, she earned our trust, earned our respect, and in return,  legitimized both IndyCar and Versus.

The very fact that a majority of the people who are the most up in arms over her departure are equally strong, confident and articulate women. should make NBC Sports stop dead in their tracks and rethink their decision.

I can tell you from my own point of view that women do not suffer fools lightly. When we tune into a broadcast, no matter the nature of the programming, we want to see a reflection of ourselves represented. The companies that “get” that, will also get our viewership, our consumership and our word of mouth. The companies that don’t… won’t.

Lindy Thackston is an integral part of the team, a member of the IndyCar family,  and represents an important segment of your audience. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Consider your ROI when you consider your next move NBC Sports.
It’s not too late to right this wrong.

15 responses to “Dear NBC Sports: It wasn’t broke… so why did ya “fix” it?

  1. Happy the outrage is so wide spread. That NBC Sports seems to be aiming for an obsolete, “sausage fest” model is equally stupid to guys, at least this one.

  2. Very well said. Can I add anything even more worthy? I think not.

  3. Excellent points, I couldn’t agree more. It is a shame that an advocate of the sport who engaged fans and asked the questions that were most on our minds won’t be reporting this year…I do hope NBCSports rethinks this mistake. I really enjoyed engaging with Versus and watching their broadcasts. Lindy was a very important part of that.

    Thanks for sharing the opinions of many. I noticed many people voicing their dismay during the State of IndyCar on Monday, including many drivers. I hope that counts for something.

  4. Perfect and well stated…as usual. Clearly no one at NBC Sports understands demographics. Beyond the fact that we lost Lindy on air, I feel bad for her. She has put a lot of effort into her Indy Car career and this was how she was repaid. Sometimes, there ain’t no justice…

  5. Very well said! I’m incredibly disappointed in NBC Sp

  6. Perfectly stated Meesh and dittos on all the above.

    I can’t imagine the discussion/meeting that lead to Lindy getting the ax.

    Inexplicable reasoning it appears lead to this one. It’s a decision whose reason or thought we’ll never hear I presume.

    DeeYooEmmBee Sports Network, come on, we’re expecting better. Take a bit of time and listen to the voices who give you free market feedback, not the ‘numberists’.

  7. Well said! Considering Lindy’s journalism background, which she served as an ALMS pit reporter for Radio Le Mans before joining Versus, she has been professional and personal to everyone she has met and worked with. The rapport she has built with the drivers are distinguishable in all her interviews, even in a heated moment. This will be a complete lost by axing her.

    Did you know NASCAR (ugh, I said it) uses female pit reporters (at least one almost every race), and some are very good. And the ALMS has not one, but two female pit reporters (yes, Lindy has worked with both of them) and no male pit reporters, though one may appear in larger races. NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus), NBC, and Comcast has taken women sports journalist back 2 decades with their decision. Their decision should be considered a disgrace to all women, especially to the young girls who aspire to be in the sports media business, not just auto racing.

    I know the nature of the business is that people will come and go. Some will move on to bigger and better things. Others will realize this style of media is not for them. Lindy has clearly found her niche in motorsports and the move by the suits at Comcast/ NBC/ NBC Sports Network is a travesty to a young, talented, up and comer reporter. I am sure Townsend Bell will do fine on pit lane, but you cannot replace the likes and talent of Lindy Thackston.

  8. Attractive, personable, knowledgable and serious: Lindycar’s contributions will be missed by fans.

  9. I can’t for the life of me understand why NBCSN would drop Lindy Thackston, she’s a very good journalist, reporter and lead presenter versatile enough to any of those roles well. With all due respect to the rest of the team I think she was their best asset, such was her professional approach to the job – and with a line-up as good as the network currently has on IndyCar, that’s as high a praise as I can give.
    I think she’s often better than Jenkins at the helm in the lead presenting role pre-race, which included doing interviews, leaving Bob to focus on main commentary which he’s very good at (I’m not saying he’s a bad presenter at all, far from it, he’s very very good.. just she’s even better IMO!). I liked that setup.

    Certainly she’s a key part of why Versus/NBCSN is considered by many to be better than ESPN’s team (again with all due respect to some good people there). If ESPN were smart they’d move *right now* to hire her, especially if they still have the ALMS rights (do they?). She could do the 6 ABC races plus any non-clashing ALMS rounds, or even NASCAR.

    I can only assume NBCSN couldn’t agree terms, or maybe Lindy was offered and accepted something elsewhere.. although I suspect if the latter was the case she’d have told us, even if it was in a way which didn’t reveal where.

    Yes it’s a shame there’s one fewer women on the TV teams but let’s not make that the main issue – that opens the door for the TV suits to say, “okay, they want a woman, we’ll pick Random Woman Z who can’t interview but she’s female so she’ll do”. And if anything were to set TV back 20 years it would be that.. No. We want a proper trained reporter who knows how to get stories and ask the right things. We want Lindy!

    • That’s not to say I want to dump the current ALMS reporters btw..

      Also not to denigrate how important it is to have women in the TV crew.. just I thought we’d all moved on from having that discussion and this should be all about ability.

  10. Well-written, Meesh. I hope that NBC Sports heeds the educated opinions of bloggers including you and fans including commenters…

  11. I am very disappointed to read that Lindy Thackston won’t be retained by NBC sports for the upcoming IndyCar season.Lindy was a wonderful addition to the team providing much needed versatility as a pit reporter and pre-race host.I too had the “Oh lets throw to the pretty girl for a off-track lifestyle segement.” thoughts when it was announced that she would join the team even with ALMS experience but her knowledge of the sport and storytelling abilities quickly made me a believer.Motorsports executives-this young lady would be an asset to any broadcast crew she finds herself on.I propose that we all show NBC the mistake they made by boycotting their races and listening to them on IMS radio along with IndyCar live timing and scoring.

  12. I fired off an email to NBC Sports network the day I heard about it. I hope everyone who cares about this matter does the same. Used to be (probably still is) anytime a letter was received expressing an opinion/registering a complaint, businesses that received them calculated that it (the single letter) represented at least 100 people’s opinion, and would factor accordingly. So I hope everyone has written/emailed their complaints about Lindy being released to NBC Sports.

  13. Pingback: No Fenders Skate on thee State of the State of ‘IndyCarz… : The Steven Malman Cars Blog

  14. I am definitely doing that.I am also going to boycott their races this season and listen to IMS radio in addition to IndyCar Live Timing and Scoring.What email address did you use?

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