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March 4, 2015, 3:16 p.m. -  Dan A - NM USA

#!markdown Curiously auto racing has been dealing with this for a while, especially in the disciplines where women athletes compete on parity with their male counterparts, and in the case of some more equipment dominated tiers of the sport it's not uncommon to see a 'good' woman driver end up posting better results than far more skilled but less photogenic counterparts (for a case study, just see how immensely skilled a driver Sarah Fisher is, and realize that Danica Patrick is the name everybody knows, and it has more to do with her willingness to show up for a cover shoot as comfortably as a centerfold). Since being able to 'go professional' in most of the extreme sport categories isn't actually directly related to success in feeder series, this is a very real instance where aspiring athletes who don't have the resources or genetics to create funds are effectively losing the opportunity to become professional athletes because the sponsorship money and hardware needed to actually take that shot at the big time are being diverted to high profile athletes that are functionally lifestyle models by occupation. Athletes already competing at the top level aren't the ones who are getting pushed out by this trend - it's the really talented semi-pro athletes scratching by to make it to support series events that are seeing the funding dry up, because that's the sort of money companies are looking to spend on the rest of the 'family of supported athletes' after their title athletes, and the unfortunate result, as seen in the top levels of motorsport, is that once the financial support from sponsors for the support series and ladder up to the professional level starts to wither, only athletes from well-to-do families, or well-connected within the industry are ever presented with the opportunity to participate at the elite level from a resources standpoint, which absolutely is the wrong direction for a sport built around grassroots support and weekend warriors as the financial base.

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