Let’s start with this in regard to the cardiac arrest suffered by the Bills’ Damar Hamlin during an NFL game Monday: I wish nothing but the best for him, full return to health and resumption of his career. That said, what happened in Cincinnati further illustrates the utter obscenity of classifying horseracing as just another sport. Aside from the obvious – racehorses are enslaved; human athletes are not – the reactions of players/fans and, even more telling, the response by the NFL speaks volumes.
The game, as I’m sure many of you know, was postponed, and rightly so, as this was not a run-of-the-mill football injury. But. Racehorses are killed every day on American tracks. Every single day. With some of those dying in full public view – vet out, tarp up, pink in (sometimes this isn’t even necessary: the horse is dead on impact), body hauled away. And then the game resumes, with not even a perfunctory moment of silence. So please dispense forevermore with the lie of horseracing-as-sport, racehorses-as-athletes. It isn’t; they’re not.
(For a definitive comparison of in-game deaths between the four major U.S. sports and horseracing, see this. Here’s a preview: In the NFL’s entire 103-year history, exactly one – one – player has died during a game. On January 1 of last year, three horses died at Ohio’s Northfield Park – in the same race.)