Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

12 February 2010

Not Fit For Marriage

In the post sexual revolution Western world people are just not marriage material anymore. This is not only applicable to the domestic situation paradigm. Even in sports men can not stay committed or married to one thing. To be a fan of horse racing you must be married to it. This fact was illustrated while the commentators discussed the Rachel/Zenyatta match-up on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" and "Around The Horn". Rather than discussing the event the reaction was more of a shrug of the shoulders. Tony Realie referred to the one favorable responder on Around The Horn as "the only person to visit an OTB not on the recently deceased list" and stated the only thing that would get him to watch it would be "if Danica Patrick was one of the jockeys". Then Mike Wilbon on PTI, apologizing to his dead father who "loved" horse racing, said "he could care less but would feel guilty as he flipped the channel to find something really interesting.

ESPN Commentator Tony Reali thinks horse racing is for old guys

These opinions are not isolated; these are the ubiquitous opinions of the masses regarding horse racing. As a leisure pastime horse racing requires too much thinking and commands too much engagement for the common man. Horse racing is high maintenance entertainment. The modern man needs something quick, easy and emotionally stimulating. The entertainment of choice should tug on the emotional heartstrings producing feelings of wonder, awe, anxiety and anticipation. While horse racing does cultivate many emotions in people it does so after a long term engagement. Before the deep positive feeling are developed the horse racing fan will likely bear the emotional devastation of losing a large wager or seeing a horse get hurt. Horse racing's long term engagement of reason has little appeal for a population that used to jumping from one short term thrill to another.

The ball sports discussed on TV have broad appeal because they are easy to understand. Due to the constant droning by the TV presenters, everyone can be an expert without feeling thing sting of being wrong or confused. The presenters hold the hands of the fans and make opinions in people where there are is limited brain activity. By providing all the requisite thoughts needed for the viewers the presenters ensure everyone that watches can follow along with ease. In contrast racing's complex PP's can bewilder the masses with a barrage of numbers, obscure figures and industry verbiage. The horse racing game is challenging; even the commentators frequently look foolish as their expert opinion fails to produce most of the time.

The appeal of these games is mostly in manipulating the emotions of the viewers. In contrast racing appeals to reason; reason is a mental facility that many people either do not use or do not realize even exists. With so few people using reason in their daily life racing has a limited market to draw upon. People are not going to say "horse racing? I'm too shallow and flaky to follow that". Instead the horse racing game is dismissed a total bore and a mindless exercise of animals running in an oval. Sadly most do not even realize the challenge and enrichment procured from internalizing and solving the puzzle of "who is going to win this race today?". While horse racing flounders TV-centric games that manipulate emotions like football or MMA fighting bring in the big ratings.

Compared to the long term marriage commitment required to follow horse racing, watching ball sports is like going to a singles bar. You can just jump into a singles bar, have a few drinks, maybe a dance or two and if the night is really good it may end at an hotel room. When these ballgames are over the viewer can cut all ties, just like a guy leaving the hotel. With racing there are long-term commitments; you have the bankroll to propagate, there is the guilt tied in to losing, there are future cards to consider and self control to master. This commitment only appeals to the few. These days manipulating passions is going to trump fostering long term reason time after time. It is clear that the commentators on ESPN clearly prefer the singles bar fun over the long term enrichment of marriage.


joseph b said...

ESPN is to sports in the same way KFC is to chicken. NTRA/Breeders Cup signing on with ESPN/ABC for the breeder's cup and other major races was the worst decision they ever made.

Steve Munday said...

Very well stated Greg, and Joe B for that matter!

I cringe every time horse racing is brought up on PTI or Around the Horn because it usually becomes the butt of a joke. I'll give Wilbon a bit of a pass for being apathetic, but Tony Kornheiser is outright hostile to the sport. Ironic because he writes for the Washington Post which had two of the best sports writers to ever cover horse racing: the late Shirley Povich and Andy Beyer. Of course, Kornheiser doesn't have a clue to what he's talking about no matter what sport is being discussed.

Keep firing away my friend..

Anonymous said...

ESPN may have its shortcomings, but your broad strokes concerning "ball sports" are ridiculously unfair. I have had a lifelong love of the big three, having played for many years, coached my children, owned season tickets, etc. etc. How many horse racing fans have actually participated in the sport beyond betting or spectating? Not many. But a huge percentage of "ball sports" fans have actually experienced the sport they love. I live in horse country, and have an appreciation for the animals and the people who raise and ride them, but I'm not silly enough to put them down (in any fashion) just because I enjoy "ball sports" more.
You at least put a cynical smile on my face when I imagined you on your high "horse" with your pockets turned out after making some bad bets. Get it? Nah, you probably don't.