Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

14 December 2010

NY Times is a Source of Disinformation

As chief journalistic representative of a culture that supposedly has a love of diversity- the NY Times does a great job of proving otherwise. While the talking class drones on about a love of diversity- the esoteric truth is that this culture from top to bottom is racing towards homogeneity. The NY Times racing coverage affirms this truth. Niche sports like racing doesn't have any room in New York according to the Times "It is hard to shake a feeling that Aqueduct’s precious 192 acres in South Ozone Park, Queens, might be put to better use, perhaps for parks or for reasonably priced housing, which goodness knows the city sorely needs. " When the Times and the cultural masters are done manipulating opinions this world will be a one trick pony- horse racing will not be providing the pony.

While most can agree with that opinion that aqueduct is not a venue enjoyed by all the Times really goes off the rails when it becomes a medium for disinformation. "With the failed bookie operation known as the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation forced to shut its doors, the numbers of horse players trooping to Aqueduct racetrack have swelled." NYCOTB was never a bookie operation, it was a parimutuel outlet- this is a huge difference in complexity and the nature of the operation.

If the New York Times is going to send a reporter to Aqueduct-- shouldn't he be informed? Why report these facts while taking them totally and completely out of context. OTB operated as a political patronage mill and was filled with inefficiency and mismanagement. OTB often acted against ( banning streaming in-home video for example) the best interest of the product. It was the fact that government corruption and ineptitude killed OTB; not the lack of appeal from the racing product. This is not clear in the piece as shows how reporting misinforms rather that informs.

While I have to agree that Aqueduct certainly is not an ascetically appealing new construction palace- I contend that Aqueduct holds a different type of charm. Certainly in this world there are diverse experiences and tastes- especially in New York. Aqueduct is a remnant of old working class New York- like an old pair of jeans that are the most comfortable, rugged and familiar article of clothes in your wardrobe. Everything in the wardrobe can not be a new suit. Must we steamroll/cleanse everything in this culture for the sake of homogeneity? Do we really need to demolish Aqueduct to make way for yet another Wal-Mart or Starbucks or Wal-Mart or Starbucks? Do we need to raid the taxpayers for billions to construct new stadiums -three here in the NYC area just the last two years- so the masses can consume more ball games and only ball games. Does every sport have to be a TV show masquerading as a team sport? If it doesn't fit the narrow mold of Mr. Haberman's world it must be demolished. This is the cultural homogeneity that the NY times silently yet ubiquitously promotes. The worldview is narrow and it is the cultural equivalent of rainforest slash and burn farming. The old is neglected and new turf is constantly slashed and burned to provide the fresh newly built experience that is requisite for "bucolic retreats"

Disinformation and cultural provincialism is not enough to drive the point home for the Times. They have to supplement this with the old stereotype. This is the old "punter as loser" stereotype that constantly appears in the press and by extension in the culture at large. The Times is very careful not stereotype most ethnic groups and certainly does not stereotype ballgame fans as braindead TV watching dolts. Why does the horseplayer always have to be stereotyped as a loser over and over.
I can’t look at horses anymore — there’s no fun,” said Michael Partridge, 69. He regularly added money to his account, but never withdrew. “I got the pleasure of it,” he said. “To handicap horses every night.”
More lackadaisical journalism from the times. There are winners at handicapping and some very sharp handicappers. This can not be read about in the New York Times. For them it is just easier to stereotype the entire group as losers and idiots. I guess if the goal is to demolish racing and get rid of all horse racing from the sports pages it is intellectually convenient to paint them with a broad brush as losers. This way when they are removed from the landscape the cultural guilt will be minimized.

This quote really highlights the poor understanding Mr. Haberman has of twentieth first century parimutuel operations:

The New York Racing Association, which operates the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga tracks, has begun busing displaced OTB devotees to South Ozone Park. But even with higher attendance figures as a result, the amount bet at the track — the handle, in racing parlance — remains a small fraction of the overall wagering.

On Saturday, for example, the handle from all betting sources for races run at Aqueduct was nearly $8.8 million. At the track itself, in relatively mild weather, the handle came to just over $1 million. That ratio of about nine to one was not significantly different from that of a comparable Saturday last December.

Are ballgames a failure because millions watch on TV with only a few thousand in the stands? Are women abandoning shopping as a source of amusement because the business has migrated to on-line while brick and mortar flounders? The fact that most wagers are being placed on-line or at distant locations is a sign of progress. Mr. Haberman completely misses this point in his piece. Does he not know about simulcasting? As most of us know this gives racing the ability to reach almost everyone in the country. Now snowbound fans in Duluth Minnesota can play Aqueduct from their couch or fans in Chicago can bet Aqueduct from their Hawthorne racecourse. This is progress and not a sign of a game in crisis. Haberman stands this fact on its head and uses it to make the point that horseplayers have found "other ways to throw away their money". Anyone who does not understand this elementary fact should not be an information source- conversely this is the mark of a source of disinformation.


The_Knight_Sky said...

I just came from reading that Times article. The first half was alright but I knew that it was going to leave me hanging nailed to the wall by the last sentence.

No mention of horse racing's "popularity" outside of South Ozone Park through ADW and simulcasting. The most remote mention of it was the all-sources handle.

Does anyone on Lexington Avenue know what all-sources handle actually is? Overall a poor job by the writer and the intent to denigrate Aqueduct was obvious, especially since better days loom in 2011.

gib. said...

I agree with you analysis of this article that seems to be a source of discussion across the internet horse racing community. Here is a copy of my rant on the subject -

I heard somewhere that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'm sure that I
would find Aqueduct beautiful.

I enjoy the races at Keeneland, but feel out of place until I walk to the
far end of the apron where "my kind" hangs out.

I feel very comfortable and strike up more conversations with strangers at
Beulah Park, Thistledown, Northfield Park, and . . . has anyone on the List
spent an afternoon simulcasting at Toledo Raceway? The more talk I hear
about the atmosphere at Aqueduct, the more likely I am to travel there.

This writer probably feels sorry for those that eat at McDonald's. Bummer
that he can't allow everyone to appreciate the things that they can afford,
rather than suggest that our pleasure spots be destroyed because they don't
meet his standards. The race track experience is different for everyone -
that's what makes it unique. We can all enjoy the a day at the races
according to our own economic comfort level or the type of experience we

Many enjoy the clubhouse experience. I'd rather be a railbird while at the
track and save fine dinning for a favorite eatery.

Based on this article, I would label Clyde Haberman an elitist rather than
socialist. He says, "Instead of hanging out in dreary parlors rank with the
air of crushed hopes and misplaced dreams, they can hang out at a race
course rank with the air of crushed hopes and misplaced dreams." -
"misplaced dreams" - How do you misplace a dream?

The biggest bummer at today's tracks and simulcast locations is that they
have eliminated the stench of stale cigars from the "dreary parlors rank
with . . . "

Anonymous said...

bring back the retention barn.
give the gamblers a semblance of honesty.
or do the only thing that makes sense, LEGALISE ALL DRUGS AND MAKE THE PLAYING FIELD LEVEL.
if not, you can tear down aqueduct and belmont. no one goes anyway.