IRS Response Rates Show the Power of "It's Not My Job", Leadership, Malaise

A few weeks ago the NTRA began asking for signatures regarding a petition that would benefit the industry. The IRS withholding changes are long overdue and, in a word are vital in many ways. After all, they could add a half a billion dollars a year or more to handle. The margin directly to the industry from that money is tantamount to the yearly slot subsidy in some states.

The petition barely gained 2,000 signatures. This from an industry that supposedly employs 4.3 million people.

Horseplayer groups like HANA shared the link with a list and got a decent response rate. Steve Crist wrote a story that was no doubt well read. There were a few other links or mentions I saw, but really things were pretty muted. I expected the 100 or so harness racing and Thoroughbred racing racetracks to be running the link on simo screens on track, and adding the information to their racing programs and mailouts. I expected it on hour on the hour on TVG or HRTV. I expected anyone in the sport with a mailing list to be mailing out the link, encouraging their readers - from every discipline; vets, horseplayers, contest players, PP providers, horse care, everything - to sign. For goodness sakes, CDI and NBC just had the Kentucky Derby watched by 16 million people. You'd think 15 seconds from a b-list celebrity's screen time talking about his hat and putting up a web link would've been the right thing to do.

That, for the most part, didn't happen.

Horse racing has a dearth in leadership and direction and that flows from the top to the bottom. Those underneath the NTRA in this episode appear to have used the "it's not my job" fall back. They could've helped more, should've helped more, and it is and was in their best interest to help more, but someone else will do it.

Those at the very low end - horseplayers - are so disenfranchised from years of not being listened to that many of them clearly felt little, or cared little. As management consultant Gary Hamel once wrote: "Not only are employees disenfranchised from most policy decisions, they lack even the power to rebel against egocentric and tyrannical supervisors." If you don't think you can replace horseplayers with employees in that statement, you need to pay more attention.

In the end there is a massive malaise in this sport that's real and palpable. Something as simple as increasing handles overnight through getting behind an IRS reform weblink can barely muster a whimper of a response. Fixing this won't happen quickly, but in my view it's something the industry needs badly to get their head around. It has a chilling effect on every decision the business makes.

1 comment:

Sal Carcia said...

Horseracing has perfected the art of making everyone feel unwanted. :)


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