A recent Harness Racing Update (HRU) column by Bob Heyden elicited some interesting, and illuminating, responses. In his piece, Heyden argued that all track “mishaps” – including deaths, even the most horrific – should be available via replay. Heyden:
“To promote the sport as one that does not have risks – occasional accidents – is the height of irresponsibility. … I am not asking to promote a Joe Theisman/Lawrence Taylor-like broken leg ad nauseum. I am asking to be treated with the respect that all fans, bettors, casual observers and reporters deserve. The truth. The whole story.”
And the responses. This from a Canadian reader and (of course) racing fan:
“Animals, unable to consent [emphasis mine], when subjected to any harm causes terrible angst in most of society. The tracks not showing accident videos obviously have a greater understanding of the precipice our sport stands on than many of those in the business. The business simply can’t afford to offer ammunition to its critics.” Then this headscratcher from that same reader: “The danger we face is not all our fault as it is the catastrophic breakdowns of the runners that are ‘driving the bus.'”
Huh? What do you suppose makes those breakdowns possible?
My favorite response, though, was this one from Brett Sturman, another HRU columnist:
“But, whether most of us like it or not, there is another side to it. The sport wouldn’t exist as we know it today without state funding. The more widely available video is that shows horses crashing to the ground in a chain reaction only serves to give further ammunition to those who can’t wait for more reasons given to them to take away all subsidies. Ideally, yes, full transparency should be provided with this and all other issues. But nobody wants to rock the boat because nobody can afford to.”
Translation: Protect our free cash. Don’t let the suckers – the taxpayers, that is – know or see the full extent of our cruelty and killing. File this one under indicting themselves.