Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fans Rule and de' Tour too!

I am still alive, regardless of what the week's (in)frequency of posts may imply. Work, the Tour de' France and waiting for Saratoga are about all I've been able to accomplish this week. I'm even behind on the happenings at Del Mar! I was, however, very impressed with Music Note today in the C.C.A. Oaks. But, having spent some time working with horses I view all races in extreme weather skeptically. I know how the heat can just wipe some horses out, just as slop, cold or sudden changes in weather can affect others. Still it was dazzling!

The article on The Horsemen's Group (THG) yesterday on the Bloodhorse site also caught my attention. Nick Nicholson, president of Keeneland is quoted as stating that he believes the future of horseracing on T.V. is in real jeopardy because of the conflict with THG and the "big racetracks." He may be right. The problem is ponderous. One word - exclusivity - seems to cause the problems.

Certainly exclusivity creates a windfall for an ADW and maybe in Nick Nicholson's mind, Keeneland. The fact that Keeneland and their partner track, Turfway, enjoy an all source-market fee helps solidify that judgement. However, his thinking on this issue is certainly not 'out-of-the box.' It is circumstantial. Perhaps it could be even better for Keeneland and other tracks if things weren't the way they were. Certainly Keenland doesn't depend on their handle to pay the bills. I wonder if a meet in the world equals Keeneland's take on just their September sale?

From how I view the situation everyone - with the possible exception on NYRA and NY's 6 OTB's- are giving more power to the ADW's than they deserve. I believe if the tracks and horsemen can agree on a formula they can write their ticket with the ADW's. Of course with CDI and Magna their track interests and their ADW business' create a conflict of interest. I can't imagine why this isn't an anti-trust issue but, nevertheless, that is how it is. If airing of the races was given away free and each track was to get a fixed industry rate on wagers placed on their track, no matter the source, exclusivity ceases to exist. It would in effect cause the ADW's to vie for patronage that would benefit not only the track but the fans! This is a win situation for everybody, except the ADW's because their monopoly (exclusivity) would be breached. There is a way for this to happen. The NTRA could be empowered by the tracks to control the signal from each track and make it available to whomever wants it for a fixed pct. The more outlets that carry a signal the better it is for everyone...except for those ADW's with now existing exclusive rights. Of course ceding the power to control their signal and rate is something that the tracks have refused to do. It would be a little like empowering the NTRA with the power the commissioner's office had in baseball in decades past.

I received a response (off-blog so it is not in the comment section) to my Ellis Farce piece that was critical of the fact that I had not mentioned the plight of the fans. Perhaps I am guilty of not mentioning the fan directly often enough. But, I always write from a fans point of view so I had assumed that my position (of a fan) comes across more, perhaps, than it actually does. I am for the fan first and foremost. As my responder stated it is the fan that makes it all possible. Yes that's true but if the horsemen aren't able to eke out a living we will have no product. So, we have to focus our efforts on where our money is going. And we need to be certain enough money is returning to the sport to keep it healthy. We need to make our thoughts and decisions heard, and we need information with which to make those decisions. The information coming from the industry is almost always skewed and purposely ambiguous. We need transparency and plain English! After becoming a fan I became interested in how the industry worked. I had, up until then, held suppositions on who received what from the takeout that were very similar to my responder. I thought the government's (Fed's, State and municipal) took almost all of it and the remainder went to purses and to run the tracks. I was shocked to find out how it is really cut up. Here's a site, the information is a bit old (2004), but it gives a good idea of how things are truly divided up: Calracing. Don't worry about the government they get theirs!

As I have carried on here I have forgotten one of the points that really ticked me off from the Bloodhorse article that made me think more about how "pro-active" I am for the fan's position.
Here's the last line of the article :

Horsemen’s groups have said they support wide distribution of signals through ADW outlets and don’t have a problem with broadcast exclusivity or fees paid to support TV exposure.

The horsemen obviously don't care about the fan at all. In racing it's all about the self interested factions with no thought of why or what makes a healthy industry. They don't care if we fans aren't able to get a signal or wager because of cable issues, disagreements, etc... It's just about their cut.

It's time we regain some control. We can do it. We just need to send the message. Maybe Travers Day or, better yet, B.C. day. Don't bet! Just one BIG day, don't bet! Let's see what that does! Send a message- without us NOTHING runs!

I have some ideas on how to make this happen, I'll explore them and post if any plausible plan develops. In the meantime let me know what you all think about something like a bet-out!


Tour de' France
What a terrific race thus far! Mark Cavendish has been spectacular for Team Columbia, winning four stages, so it is terribly disappointing to hear he is going to abandon. Cadel Evans is riding superbly with the yellow and he is my sentimental favorite to win though I would also be happy to see American (U.S.) Christian Vande Velde break through! He's currently third 38 seconds behind Evans. Tomorrow's stage promises to be brutal; I can't wait!
Ricardo Ricco looked fabulous winning two mountain stages with an ease that seemed superhuman and now it appears it was. He was arrested for EPO and sent home to Italy. If found guilty-extremely likely- I imagine he will be banned for life! And, if found guilty, he should be. Good for Cycling!

1 comment:

dana said...

I love the idea of boycotts. Some of us put together a petition to the BC about changing the name of the Distaff and in general the two day format. One of our stipulations was that we were willing to not watch, wager and attend on that Friday. There were many people who agreed with us but were unwilling to not bet!

We heard a lot of "have fun on friday while I'll be watching and wagering on great races". It's sad and strange to me that people aren't willing to make a single sacrifice to make a point that could result in change. All that said, I'm still a fan of the tactic and think there's hope to get it work!

You should check out HANA, a new fan group specifically targeting take out.

And of course, please submit your ideas and rants to Self Appointed Fan Committee!