Another please: Weak in Sports
In the 138th Annual Kentucky Derby, a 15-1 horse, I’ll Have Another, took the crown in an event that drew a record crowd of almost 170,000 people. Yet, it seemed like no one noticed. And the reason for that is quite simple.
Every once in a while, we hear about the possibly pending bout between now-Senator Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. The fight, if it ever happens, would likely be the best boxing match in years, and yet despite the enormous crowds that would surely file into the stadium on fight day, no one would really notice. Once again, the reason for that is simple.
50 years ago, boxing and horse-racing were on top of the world. Football, baseball, basketball and hockey salaries were all laughably low, and the revenues were hardly any different. But a boxer could make a living just like a horse trainer and jockey could grow rich on the money that switched hands in these two sports. So the obvious question is: what happened?
Well, the obvious answer has to do with television. Say what you will about the boob tube, but it has perhaps the greatest power of all things to make or break a sport in the national eye. After failing to embrace television, boxing and horse racing are now in the long, drawn-out process of dying that some sports must eventually face. But the question that needs to be asked is whether or not television presence would have changed it.
In the case of boxing, it is unlikely that it would have survived. Boxing is, at its core, a barbaric sport. In any sport where the sole goal is to beat an opponent into a bloody pulp, bigger is better as far as entertainment is concerned. That means that UFC, with more ways to bruise, break, batter and bash your opponent, is inherently better than boxing. Bring on the barbarism—we must be entertained!
But horse racing is a fast paced, simple sport. The actual races, if simulcast from dozens of tracks at once, would run as often as football plays and draw out for about a minute longer. The result would be a sport that was fitted perfectly to the zero-second attention span most of us allow for tv-watching.
And yet this article seems to be more retrospective than anything. Is it likely that horse racing can regain its importance? Not likely. The chances are far better than those for boxing, though, which has long since become little more than a memory in severely concussed heads. Maybe the secret ingredient is a little of that barbarism. I guess it’s only a matter of time until we get a fan-favorite national jousting circuit then.