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.