The New York Times Intervention
There's someone in trouble, they tend to not realize their problem is a big one, and they blame everyone else for their life. They usually resist help at all costs and react to anyone with anger. They sometimes feel things will just get better on their own. Then, later, they finally come aboard that they have an issue, they get help, deal with it and hopefully get better.
I think we're seeing similar play out with the New York Times hit-piece on racing.
First we saw some anger. "How could Joe Drape do this?" was a common theme. Poor ol' Joe's twitter picture was popping up on dart boards in shedrows across the entire nation.
Then we saw some deflection. The meme, "this was really about quarterhorse's, not us, you know" resonated. It seemed to make people feel better that Quarterhorse racing had a higher breakdown rate than Thoroughbreds and it was skewing the overall numbers. This was also mixed with some anger - anger that Joe Drape could allow this grave statistical injustice to occur in his article. People who took part in this stage also seemed to like the anger stage.
Then we saw "don't blame me, blame someone else" stage start to bubble. If you were a big proponent of dirt tracks, well, it wasn't that which was causing any problem. Dirt, according to them, played no role whatsoever in these breakdowns that the Times was talking about. If you were responsible for breeding these fragile beats, well it wasn't your fault either. It was the dirt tracks. Or drugs. Or maybe it was Joe Drape's fault. If none of that stuck, well the article was really about Quarterhorse's anyway.
We saw some enter the "this will get better on its own stage". The New York Times is a left-wing, agenda driven rag that no one reads. In addition,with trillion dollar deficits and a bad economy, people don't really care about horse racing anyway. This will go away.
Those aren't all of the people, nor is it even a majority of the people, and they are not crazy, nor are they stupid. It's just the way it is, because it's our game. In our cocoon here in racing, we like to commiserate together. Commiseration, deflection, anger, blame, and an willingness to pass the buck unfortunately doesn't do us any good.
We can nit-pick this Times series as much as we want for its alleged unfairness, but Thoroughbred racing has a breakdown problem. Its had it for years. We all know this.
In 2012, animal issues have reached a zenith, and they're not going away. And I don't mean with PETA types, they are probably best ignored, but with the mushy middle; the folks who are currently deciding between Obama and Romney. It's probably only going to get worse.
I am not smart enough to come up with an effective strategy for this deep-seeded, age-old problem, but Lord knows we certainly have to admit we have one, and someone better look at fixing it.
The Interventionist has left the building. It's time to move on.
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