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Football and Racing

We chatted a little bit earlier this week about the changing attitudes in horse racing. What was practice 30 years ago is practice today, but the lens has changed. This morning, I read this article (h/t to the Drudge Report, even though I think he doesn't read this blog) titled "Kids Flee Football in Light of NFL Violence"
  • participation in the country’s largest youth football organization, Pop Warner, declined 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, as first reported by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”
  •  “It’s a bloodsport, but in the proper context it can be played,” Mr. Fink said. “I love football. I don’t want it going anywhere. I’m not trying to ruin the sport — I’m trying to save it.”
This is probably not too shocking. As things change, attitudes change.

But it does play a role on the future of a game. What if in one or two generations, with fewer and fewer kids playing the game, interest wanes? The pipeline of parents watching and coaching their sons, their sons coaching and watching their sons is a reason some sports are so popular. Is football popularity at its zenith?

Although boxing's issues are ridiculous and self-inflicted for the most part, more than one person has said he or she cannot watch that sport because of what future the participants have. Rick Reilly, on NFL Monday Night Countdown on Monday said pretty much the same thing in his monologue regarding brain injury. He said (paraphrasing) that he has a little bit of trouble watching a game now; it 'doesn't feel right'.

I don't think this is a heck of a lot different than horse racing, and why its issues are so important. We had a little fun on Wednesday writing about how the sport compares to a baseball game. In that, Chickenhead wrote: "A bunch of old men come onto the field, and play slow pitch softball for 2 minutes. One of them falls and breaks his hip -- he rolls around near home plate in pain, and then they cart him off in an ambulance."

We're selling a "sport" where a few times a week one of the participants will die.  That's not easy is it?

Similarly, we're trying to sell investors - many of them like me and you, animal lovers in some form - to buy bloodstock, where a few times a week this happens.

Like boxing, or football, attitudes change. A sport (or any business) is particularly up against it when that change comes from both a demand and a supply perspective. Racing has that, and its issues are surely causing the game to wane. The sad part of it all is that the industry might one day fix high takeout, or lasix use, or the Interstate Horse Racing Act, but (like football probably) they are never going to fix the breakdown issue. For the sport to exist - just like the inevitable injuries in football - it's something that has to be tolerated.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Deaths would happen less if the sport would stop protecting guys like Baffert that bend the rules for an edge and in the process, horses drop dead from the unintended side effects. Some deaths are uncontrollable - many these days are.