How to Grow Horse Racing. There’s Only One Way, You Know…

Marion_TalkoftheTracKWhat I know about gaming–other than betting on horse racing–would fill a thimble.  Horse Racing is the only sport about which I care.  And gaming–well, let’s be honest.  Gaming is not a sport.   No one who participates in any kind of gaming is an athlete.  There are no “gaming athletes,” right?

(It continues to blow my mind that poker has a place on ESPN’s website, alongside Horse Racing. )  And why is Horse Racing an “other sport,” anyway? Ahhh, that’s another blog, for another day.

If we’re going to call poker a sport–when, in reality, it’s a GAME–we must then accord that same title to other games.  Like, Uno and Monopoly.

It is–in my humble opinion–ludicrous for anyone to think that gaming will grow the fan base of Horse Racing.   It will have no such effect.

Gaming will bring in more money for better purses–and hopefully, better conditions for horses and their caregivers.  Gaming, affiliated with racetracks, creates a flow of cash that Horse Racing desperately needs.

For that I am grateful, and I say, Bring it On.  When first I saw the racino at Aqueduct, my mouth was left hanging open:  it’s gorgeous and downright spectacular.  If we can get thousands of people into that building every year, and pour money into horse racing in New York State–sign me up.

I’m all about gaming as a means to an end, that end being to make more money for Horse Racing.

But it’s ludicrous, at best, to think that gaming will bring more fans into the Sport of Kings.   Sure, there are people who love horse racing and who love gaming, as well.

But I just don’t see it going in the opposite direction, that gamers will  have a mass revelation–that Horse Racing is a great sport, one on which they can get hooked.  I’ve not-yet seen it go the other way.

Horse racing authorities should not hang their hopes on the concept of moving gamers out of the parlor and into the grandstand.  Embrace gaming for what it is–for what it can do for our sport–and change the thinking, to understand the only sure-fire way to grow the sport:

The only guaranteed way to grow the sport by bringing in new fans is to–wait for it–introduce them to A HORSE.  

I know–novel concept, yes?

Equine sports are the only such endeavors that feature guileless athletes. Athletes who give their all, 100% of the time.  Athletes who are pure, innocent and who don’t intentionally dope themselves.

Horse Racing will grow only when the scrambling for answers stops, and we go back to Square One:  introduce people, one-on-one, to a HORSE.  Watch their eyes widen, and their hearts beat faster.

Stripping away all the gimmicks like bikini contests in the infield–and getting to the bone again–will grow Horse Racing and bring it back to health.  Gaming will give us the cash to create programs to introduce humans to horses–to take it into the communities, and nurture that new-found love–and bring it back to the track.

Gaming is great, and I’m grateful that it’s helping to fund our sport.  But no amount of gaming will bring new race fans to the Sport of Kings.  No human or machine on Earth has the power or the impact of one single, solitary, soulful horse, looking a new friend in the eye–then inviting that new friend to the Big Dance.