Let's try and have a good debate, at least one better than
Every sport has image problems. The NBA had the Jailblazers, the NFL
still has the Bengals, MLB battles drugs, and the NHL is well, if you've heard
of it, it's the hockey league. Many in
our industry point to the NHL as another sport going through rough times. Like horse racing, paper
coverage is dwindling, it gets
low ratings, and its season is said to be too long. It's horse racing but on Ice! Well, no not exactly.
Ice Hockey's image battle is with irrelevancy.
Talk to a hockey fan about teams South of of the 40th latitude
and even they think those teams are pointless.
The Stanley Cup needs big market teams to do any business at all in the
post season, and while VS. gives the NHL a singular "marquis" platform the
channel isn't also known as the "World Wide Leader." Is hockey relevant in the US? Who knows?
That's the problem.
Horse racing's major battle isn't with irrelevancy. For example, the Kentucky Derby is still a
draw on TV, and some see it rebounding.
It's always listed as a top must-see-before-you-die event, and
participants (horses and jockeys) are listed among top 100 athletes all the
time. So, America
knows the Derby. The Derby
will always be relevant.
The major image problem with horse racing is gambling. Yep, the thing that keeps us in business is
also the same thing putting us out of business.
I'll just cut straight to the examples:
At home tonight you'll probably catch an "Only Vegas" commercial. What are they selling? I'll say it's not gambling. It's everything but gambling if you've seen
the ones I've seen. It's only when you
get to Vegas that you see signs for the "Loosest Slots in Town" and "Players
The NFL has different categories for injuries: Questionable,
Probable, Out, and records who does and
does not practice throughout the week.
Does that help the fan more or the gambler more?
How many people know someone who isn't the biggest fan of
gambling, and has a negative opinion of you going to the track on the
weekend? How many of those people who
chastise us also participate in fantasy football, are in a March Madness
bracket, join a survivor pool. They
don't even realize they're gambling. How
many of those people ask us to put $2 on the nose of some horse in the Derby.
Ok, so go ahead have at me.
I don't want to hear arguments about how the Asians, Norwegians, South
Africans, or Australians do it. I see
this as a cultural problem, and those cultures are vastly different than
I'm also NOT against marketing gambling. Look at the Vegas example. They market the gambling once you're
there. That sounds about right. How many of you have been on a track
tour? Where's the first place you go? I doubt it's the window to learn the parlance
of betting. You have to give people a