What if I told you no matter what is said or done that one of you’re favorite sports would begin to tarnish? Before you start rolling thoughts around your noggin, could it be the NFL with the myriad of issues it has faced in a year? Sexual battery, misconduct, bullying, intentional harm intended to defenseless players, or the white elephant in the room of drugs and PED’s? Or, could it be the college version of the same sport? Student misconduct, theft, sexual harassment, or the issue of players being paid for playing? It’s all so consuming, and I see why many are tired of hearing the woes. As we close in on the “Big Game” this Sunday, here are a few figures to keep in mind: 2014’s matchup set a record for total viewers and produced the second-highest household rating on record at 46.4, meaning just under half of all households tuned into the game. About 7 out of 10 households that were watching TV tuned into the Super Bowl, according to television ratings service Nielsen. Take all of that, and toss it in a blender. Serve in a chilled glass with a fruit garnish, and sit back and ruminate on how this all goes down and we’re still on board?
Before the football police take me away, I’m a die hard fan to the bitter end. I watch and listen to the weekly events as they unfold and shake my head in disgust. But, you can bet dollars to donuts I’ll be watching college games on Saturday, and the NFL on Sunday. How can this be? Is it selective hearing that allows us to magically tune out what we don’t want, or we are desensitized from watching a 24-hr violent video game? Nope. In my humble opinion, we can take in the bad news and hope corrective action gets the train back on track. We’re still optimistic and believe things can be fixed. No matter how bad, how ugly, or how wrong. We’re not going to toss out the game from a handful of wrong doings. As I sit back with drink in hand, I wonder where has racing gone wrong wear other sports continue to flourish?
Start up your time machine and travel to a land forgotten. Remember how Hollywood Park had the flash of the day ? It was in style and sexy to be at the track. You’ll see mental images of Bing, Bob Hope, Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Mickey Rooney, Telly Savalas, Carol Burnett, Elizabeth Montgomery, Burt Bacharach, John Forsythe, and the one-of-a-kind Bo Derek. From the 1940’s to the 1970’s, it was hot to be around the track. You were in the scene and beauty and pageantry just dazzled around you like a diamond necklace. What happened? How come it’s not cool to be at the track anymore ? Where is the star power of today? Oh, they’re still around, but it is like trying to light up a cigarette in a fancy restaurant, it’s just not as cool as it once was. Queen Elizabeth, M.C. Hammer, Drew Brees, Elizabeth Hurley, Steven Spielberg, Rick Pitino, Bode Miller, Bobby Flay, Jim Rome, Alex Trebeck, Joe Torre, Wes Welker, Paul Lo Duca, Rex Chapman to name a few. But you’ll only see them on marquee days as the media scours the planet to find the beautiful people. So, Mr. Wizard. What’s the answer?
In about ten days, the racing world has been served up more news. The kind of’ stuff that makes people wonder what’s going on and when will it stop. The Kentucky Racing Commission has exonerated Steve Asmussen from any wrong doing in the mistreatment of animals in his care. It seemed that PETA was on a which hunt and with the help of some hidden (edited) video. His coffin was all but nailed shut. For the record, good or bad, I have always been a fan of Asmussen racing. I started watching his brother Cash tear apart Europe, and it led me to the mega-barn of the red-hot Asmussen. To read the entire report from the KHRC, you can find it right here http://www.khrc.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx.
Sam Houston Park is now under fire for one of it’s longtime riders carrying an electrical device to stimulate horses to run. Twice caught in the past, the world of racing has Roman Chapa on the hot seat. I read about this unsettling news first from the Paulick Report, and at first glance it doesn’t sound good. For the complete story you can go to http://www.paulickreport.com/news/ray-s-paddock/chapa-charged-with-felony-for-alleged-buzzer-use/ for a better understanding complete with close up pictures. This has been recent and is not forgotten news to the world of racing. But the million dollar question is how does the game put this aside and enjoy a continued growth spurt? Plain and simple, I am starting to feel it won’t. If you look at any racing article these days you’ll hear someone tearing down CDI or Stronach. Add in the under belly happenings, and the ever present PETA folks trying to pull back the curtain to expose ugly deeds. It starts looking like racing is against the ropes, and the standing eight count has begun. The media has all but abandoned racing coverage, and the sport is likened to a red-headed step-child. Can the Sport of Kings rebound? Is there a fairy tale ending as in many sports where a short memory is your best friend? I’m not too sure these days, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be tuned into the Super Bowl come Sunday night no matter what issues are on-going.