Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm Happy You Comment to Me, But It's Probably a Waste of Time

Over the past twenty four hours I don't know how many comments I've gotten on harness racing. I wrote a post about the American National card and the comments were filled with nothing about the American National card. Via email, I have gotten some comments, too. Most of them have to do with the products' presentation to a national audience.

Here is a smattering.......

"How do you play that game?"

"I told you once, I told you a thousand times, it's built for the 10th century and will never change"

"Every time I see a harness trainer in the news it's for drugs, why would the drivers be any different?"

"Why anybody would bet on the fiasco that is harness racing is beyond my comprehension. RIP."

"its horrible how they abuse these animals, should be ashamed of themselves, no wonder the sport is dying and Balmoral was only full of hillbilly inbred drunks sat night."

"For entertainment, do you go to the movies, or attend cock fights?"

Pacing guy noted today, regarding the lack of rules in the sport: 
  •  The driver at the Meadows who has 15 violations for kicking a horse this year.His fine for violation #1 $100.; His fine for violation #15? $100. Clearly a fine of $100 is not a deterrent to this driver who has earned $2,187,880 in purses
We know most of the above is not true. Most people care about their horses. The people who get caught for drugs in harness racing are usually supplied them by vets, who are the same vets thoroughbred trainers use. If it's in one sport, it's in the other. Thoroughbred racing cares for horses too, but when they stop racing they sure don't seem to, do they?

But the fact remains - with harness racing run like it is, the perception is the reality. The lack of structure has branded it so, and it's taken many years for this branding to take hold.

One wonders, however, where has the pride gone?

If someone thinks my restaurant food is bad, or my employees are chasing customers away, I try to fix it. I want my restaurant to succeed. My employees take the criticism personally and do something about it.

If my car company is getting slammed for bad workmanship and people are telling others to "buy Japan", pride comes into play. The union, the city, the car plant - everyone - bands together to help the brand. "Imported from Detroit" is one of the best ad campaigns I have ever seen.

Not only do I see a lack of pride in wanting to put out a product the public wants to see, I see apologists for it. And that's even worse.

Some industry employees say "I am tired of hearing about it and I wish everyone would shut up"

Some apologize and deny anything is happening. 

Recently when discussing rules with a harness racing power dude, he noted "We get complaints about things like kicking and whipping in the genitals and they look bad, but it's hard to change them".

It's like harness racing has Baghdad Bob as a spokesman saying "the Americans aren't here", as he ducks bombs emblazoned with apple pie logos. 

Where is the workmanship, the pride, the wanting to get better? The wanting to put out a product that people can be proud of? The sausage making to make a better sausage? The getting the hands dirty to make people feel optimisitic and passionate about the sport again?

Where are the people who lead, that people can get behind?

I don't understand it and I don't think I ever will.

In the meantime, I will continue to write blog posts about an event in racing, and people will comment and comment and comment to me nothing to do with that event, but about the presentation of it. They'll email. My thoroughbred friends will think I am a hillbilly. Maybe they feel they can comment here and someone will read. Maybe they are jaded like that.

That's fine, I don't particularly care.  They can do, and comment, about anything they want to comment on. I have not stifled opinion, or been a blinkered cheerleader for anything here since 2007, and I never will.

But they should all wise up.

The sport is unwilling to fix these things you complain about. It's the way it is. I certainly can't do anything about it, and even if I could, I would be unwilling to. Harness racing made its own bed. The people inside of it are the only ones who can fix it. If you are waiting for them to fix it, you'll be waiting for a long, long time.


Anonymous said...

........ most people agree with all the comments. It's easier to do nothing instead of push forward new agendas. Collect purse money, do not pass go.

Anonymous said...

I had a boss who used to say, "Lead, follow or get out of the way!"

If harness racing has any leaders, they're invisible to me. There are plenty who continue to follow the same path that put racing in it's current state. The rest just refuse to get out of the way. They're collecting today's checks without regard to how long it will continue.

Anonymous said...

On that California email list from that Andy person he spoke about "harvesting". Harness racing is harvesting slot money. No one cares. Kick horses, 35% takeouts, no customers.... NO ONE CARES as long as the purse money keeps rolling into their bank accounts.

August Song said...

I'm no expert, but the much the same issues ailing the thoroughbred realm, appear to afflicting the standardbred world, too. And so much could addressed & resolved by each sport giving up their petty jurisdictional fiefdoms, for the sake of the greater good --- a central authority to oversee and regulate all that goes on in their sport. Respect your sport, and the people and the horses that comprise it, and chances are good, that others will respect the sport, too. E Pluribus Unum proved to be a very important and significant approach by the forefathers of this country. "Out of many, one" may still be the correct and proper management style. Arguments and issues will always arise, but with one central authority to manage and adjudicate, my feeling is a lot more people will respect the sport, and what goes on.

Unknown said...

Hi Dean,
Of course there are many things in Harness Racing in need of fixing, and there always will be, the same with any sport or business. Of course the dysfunctional governance structure of the game in North America is high on the list. On the other hand, positive steps have been taken, not least by the new team at The Meadowlands, and also at Balmoral Park, particularly with regard to customer service and improving the racing product and its appeal to bettors. Frankly, you have been instrumental in these changes. You have been one of the leading voices in the sport highlighting issues that the two tracks I mentioned, amongst others have begun to address.
For that reason alone, I disagree that people should wise up or give up. I don't agree that there is nothing you yourself can do. You have already done it, and continue to do so.
Thank you very much for the blog, it has added greatly to my enjoyment of the game. Your writing has been intelligent, thoughtful, insightful and interesting. Long may it continue to be so.
William Child

Pull the Pocket said...

Thanks for the comments.

And thanks for reading the blog for all these years William. Appreciated.


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