Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Support horse racing in ESPN poll

If you are yet to show horse racing some love by voting for it as your favorite sport -- or among your favorite sports -- in this poll on ESPN.com, get over there and do it.

The sport of kings actually is faring well so far in this very unscientific survey. Horse racing is hanging on at No. 9 of 20 sports, narrowly in the top 50th percentile. But it has received more first place votes (at this writing, 2,447) than any sport other than the National Football League (3,686).

The only surprise in the poll thus far, to me anyway, is that NASCAR is struggling along in 15th place, with only 50 votes as a fan's most-favored. This from an organization that, only a few years ago, touted itself as "America's fastest-growing sport."

I used to be a big NASCAR fan myself, but handed-in my pit pass, so to speak, when the organization turned its back on traditional tracks -- namely Rockingham and Darlington, or if you really jump in the way-back machine, North Wilkesboro, which could be counted on for some of the best races every season -- in favor of "cookie-cutter" ovals on which the racing usually couldn't be more boring.

The poll demands that you rank at least your top five choices, which should be easy enough for anybody. Honestly, after my top five -- horse racing, college football, NFL, NHL and, yes, mixed martial arts (blame my son, the black belt in judo) -- I couldn't really care less. Except to rank the NBA and WNBA in 19th and 20th.

So again, I urge you to scurry over to ESPN.com and at least cast your vote for your top five sports -- hopefully horse racing included. I'd have to think the poll will have at least a little bearing on how ESPN moves forward with future coverage of these sports, and the more support horse racing receives, the higher its profile on the world's greatest sports network.


  1. There was an article in the NYTimes recently about Nascar's struggling numbers, which they think is due in part to the handful of drivers under 30. I think it's due to the fact that it's completely and utterly boring crap.

  2. So, the NYT (or whomever) was suggesting there needs to be MORE NASCAR drivers under 30? ... One of the things that bugged me was that experienced drivers who knew what they were doing were being replaced willy nilly by kids I wouldn't trust in the flippin' interstate, let alone at 150 on the back straight.

    Short-track and mile races are a blast, especially if you're there in person. It takes a lot of skill to drive those tracks, even though you're "just going in circles." The mile-and-a-half ovals are just "mash the throttle and hold your line." All comes down to the strength of the engine shop, the setup and the pit stops. Driver skill largely removed from the equation.

    None of which, I'm sure, is compelling to you at all. :-)

  3. The NASCAR product would be 1000% better if there was visually obvious racing (passing, blocking, drafting, etc.) on the tracks other than Talladega, Daytona, Darlington, and the road courses. So few of the tracks feature actual racing. It's about hitting the marks and finding clean air. It's a very boring product, in my opinion, because 30 out of 36 races feature no visually obvious racing.

    Oh, and change the cars so that the leader racing in clean air doesn't have a HUGE advantage over everyone else in the field, thus drawing away and making the race even less compelling.

    David H.

  4. Spoken like someone who has watched a race or two. And I agree. Other than a couple of tracks, the product today is just terribly boring.

    Fans (when I followed) used to complain that the networks broke for advertising so often -- "NBC, 'Nothing But Commercials,'" they used to say -- but really, on most tracks, what did we miss?

    On these 1.5-mile tracks like Texas, Vegas, California, Kansas, Chicagoland, etc., it's pretty much just "mash the throttle and hit your marks." If you're gaining ground, keep the setup the same. Losing ground? Change the setup.

    The person at the wheel is practically secondary.

  5. I had no idea there were so many sports I don't like. Agree completely Glenn, after about No. 5, I was into "what I dislike least" territory.

  6. Haha, Nicholas, yeah, there are a lot of sports on that list I probably haven't watched for five minutes in my lifetime. Like the X-Games.

  7. Now at #7 overall, and more interestingly, it has MORE first-place votes than 2-6 (it must have fewer top-six votes overall to have wound up 7th.) It is distantly beating, among others, Major League Soccer and NASCAR.

    And I hope ESPN looks at this and realizes: NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE WNBA. It's like basketball, only MORE boring. I'd sooner watch cricket, but that wasn't an option.

  8. I wouldn't just watch cricket sooner than I'd watch the WNBA ... I'd rather listen to crickets. Lawn chair, sweet tea, starlight, crickets.

    The WNBA, and really the NBA, are just invasions of what could otherwise be peaceful silence.


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