Breaking down a barrier

Women are breaking down long-standing barriers when it comes to sports that have been the almost-exclusive domain of males.

Danica Patrick recently won the pole at the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s premier event of the year.

Going into the final lap, she was running in third place before finishing eighth.

She may not have won, but she more than proved she belonged in racing’s premier circuit.

Rosie Napravnik, who already has won the Kentucky Oaks, has a great opportunity to be the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby this May.

She is the jockey for Shanghai Bobby, the early Kentucky Derby favorite.

If Napravnik does win, she would not be the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown race as Julie Krone won the 1993 Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair.

But I can see the headlines now: Roses For Rosie.

Come Sunday morning, the jockey will be more famous than the winning horse.

Kelly Kulick is a member of the Professional Bowlers Association Tour. In fact, she won its most prestigious title in 2010, the Tournament of Champions.

That win earned her a two-year exemption that made her a regular member of the tour, where she has been widely accepted by the other competitors.

It seems like every time a female competes in an event that has historically been dominated by men, it becomes a big story.

But there may come a time when it is so commonplace, it barely merits mention.

I did feel sorry for the female kicker who was given a tryout at a National Football League combine on Sunday. Naturally, the media hype was over the top. But her attempt to be the first female member of the NFL failed miserably, as she was waived off the field after two rather pathetic kicks.

In addition to athletes, another aspect of sports where women are excelling is officiating. Violet Palmer has been refereeing National Basketball Association games for 13 years. She’s become such a fixture, her entrance onto the court no longer draws attention.

Those of us who are old enough witnessed the color barrier get broken in professional sports.

Now, slowly we are seeing the gender barrier disappearing.

Speaking of girls, come Wednesday, they will steal the state sports spotlight when the Charleston Civic Center conducts the state high school girls basketball championship.

The quality of play today is so much better than when West Virginia recognized girls basketball in the mid 70s.

I’ve always enjoyed watching girls sports, if for no other reason than the female athletes realize their limitations and don’t try to make that impossible SportsCenter highlight play. In many cases, they are much more fundamentally sound than their male counterparts.

You Go, Girls.

Contact Dave Poe at