Friday, March 12, 2010

Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and Swirling Television Logic

Alice has to buy a school lunch today.

Truthfully, I never got around to buying any bread (or cereal for that matter so I’m not exactly sure what she ate for breakfast) because yesterday I was called into the lab to do some stem cell analysis for a couple of impending transplants only to have instrument problems that took more time to troubleshoot than Avatar and when I was finally done with my work my husband sent me a text, saying he had caught an earlier flight and he was waiting outside terminal C and could I pick him up, and when I got him back to the house my daughter Sophie desperately pleaded for me to wash her gym clothes for the next day and that we also needed to dash over to Mr. E.’s Music because she broke her last clarinet reed and she was scheduled to play in an ensemble contest the next day, all the while as Alice recorded Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School as well as other assorted cartoons with the DVR which, in turn, automatically deleted my last two episodes of The Mentalist that I had never got around to watch.

My point: I don’t have time to watch TV.

The Odds On Intermittent blogger astutely remarked that horse racing fans will be excitedly watching the races of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, but who else will be watching?
I am mystified as to why none of the major networks deemed these races worthy to broadcast. Where are our marketing representatives those who claim to promote and market the sport?

Did they fight to get these races televised to a national audience?

Frankly, I’m not sure major networks really know how to broadcast horse racing. As a biased multitasking racing fan, sure, I can sit in the simulcast parlor and observe an array of television screens with varying racetracks, horses, racing conditions, and time zones. Okay, Tampa Bay Derby at 4:30 [Central time], Fair Grounds at 5:15, quick flip to Santa Anita at 5:36, and quickly get back over to Oaklawn for the Rebel for its 5:47 post time. Hopefully, I won’t have to go to the bathroom.

It would be a network meltdown.

For example, take the Kentucky Derby broadcast. It drives me nuts. I’ve watched it - once. It’s a two hour broadcast with stories and vignettes and celebrities and Mint Julep concoctions and the words of "My Old Kentucky Home" scrolled along the bottom of the TV screen for those of us who want to sing along at home, when instead we should be mowing the yard. I can’t recall if the broadcast showed any Derby prep races – maybe just snippets – but I clearly remember there was no broadcast of the undercard. 2 hours of schtick for a 2 minute race. I could’ve been washing my car.

Personally, I believe there should be a way to effectively broadcast horse racing in a concise and entertaining way. The Take Back Saturday mantra as touted by Aspiring Kevin seems like an interesting and doable model; the Triple Crown prep races being a good place to start. If live racing proves unfeasible, what of a weekly recap show hosted by an entertaining and informative broadcast ensemble? Maybe hire Charles Barkley?

Anyway, I’ll be at the racetrack watching the much anticipated seasonal debuts of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. And, admittedly, maybe I would have more time to watch TV if I didn't spend my Saturday afternoons at the racetrack. But the only way I can watch horse races I have to be at the track because racing's not on TV. Well ... what sort of logic are you expecting from someone who can't remember to buy a loaf of bread?


Nick said...

The number one complaint to me by non-racing fans who have tried to watch racing on TV is the 2 hours of filler (or more) for a 2 minute race. When I explain that there are actually races during that time but they're not being shown, people who have never watched a horse race before in their life immediately see how dumb that is.

It always kind of amuses me when you can *see* the race taking place in the background while the commentator drones on about "Touching Owner Story B" for the third time in the broadcast.

Anonymous said...

1) Tell me which track has the $200k to get on TV this Saturday? Let me know which network is going to dump out of their contractual obligations to show golf (NBC) and college hoops (Disney & CBS) to show two races that are really just tune-ups.
2) As far as the 2 hours of filler, you should be specific about the fact that is how NBC shows the Derby. ESPN has shown the undercard from Churchill for years and packs more racing into their broadcasts. Derby Day is the highest rated racing show on ESPN all year - more than the racing packed Breeders' Cup shows.
3) The Triple Crown races are events and are covered the same way as Olympics or the Super Bowl. Many, many more people tune in who have no familiarity with the storylines of the game and need to be informed and given a reason to watch. For those of us who follow the game, there's ESPN, TVG and HRTV.

Anonymous said...

Anon is dead on right. All the networks are already broadcasting other sporting events that get much higher ratings than any tune up race would get.

As for the Derby, NBC treats it as an "event" and does quite well with it that way.

Kevin Stafford said...

Actually, the "already broadcasting other sports" line is not a foregone conclusion.

Anyone remember what ESPN was showing when Curlin returned from his World Cup victory in Dubai and ran in the Stephen Foster?

It was some sort of canine athletics/obstacle course for dogs thing. I kid you not. Not even a proper "dog show."

I know we can't beat the NCAA or NFL, but by god, we can beat dogs running through (non flammable) hoola-hoops.

viagra online said...

It always kind of amuses me when you can *see* the race taking place in the background while the commentator drones on about "Touching Owner Story B" for the third time in the broadcast.