Old Boys Club

Connie has a neat post up today about working the backside.  It's filled with many interesting anecdotes, a snapshot into the culture we do not often see, and is a really nice read. Actually, that's not strong enough: It is a really important read.

One paragraph sums up a problem, in my opinion. Regarding finding something untoward, she writes:
  •  I had no one to tell. I was completely clueless as what to do about it. I recently said as much to some horse racing folks and I was told I should have gone to the stewards. I thought about that, but here is where things get murky. For one, if you are a new hotwalker at the track, knowing no one, you have no idea if your whistleblowing is going to cause you to lose your position. Second, the stewards do not live in a vacuum. One steward was having a relationship with an assistant trainer backside and had a brother who was a trainer there, too.

She hit the "wall".

Judges/stewards who are pals with participants; that's only one part that doesn't make much sense.

Do you want to break in as a track executive? Well, take a racetrack industry course and learn from others who worked in the industry. Don't get an MBA from Columbia. Despite it being one of the most sought after business degrees on the planet, that won't work because it might not help you run a racetrack.  Bill is a trainer who fills the entry box and his kid needs a job. For god's sake, cheerlead at all costs, because even if you don't for one second - showing some independent thought - you might be in trouble and never work in the business.

Racing boards, old time board of directors for a racetrack and other power-fiefdom's don't have "need grey hair, and be a man who spends money or knows someone who spends money" listed as a job skill on an application, but I don't blame you for thinking so.

Is this why change is so hard? Is it why the customer has long felt ignored? Is this why innovation, new ways of doing things, new opinion, taking chances are all so difficult?

I think it plays a big part of it. This is an industry where a guy like Stronach is considered someone who 'doesn't know business' and 'failed.' What a crock. The man created one of the world's largest car parts companies from his Toronto basement, while barely knowing a word of English. He didn't just get dumb when he bought a track.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the "culture of the backstretch" and that's needed, I am sure. However, the front side can probably use some updating and modernizing, too. It's not 1950, but at times it sure looks like it.

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