With a week and a half til the Kentucky Derby I could write about contender pedigrees, but there are others much more knowledgeable than I on the subject; say Sid Fernando
or Frank Mitchell
. Or I could write about which horse I think will win, but that’s just one guy’s opinion. Watch the races, look at the racing form, and draw your own conclusions (or wait for our final Derby Dozen to roll out next week).
Instead I’ll write about sports and reality television. My friend Dean (I think he’s my friend, we’ve never met) over at PTP wrote about horse racing on TV. Give it a read; it’s good. His point: Triple Crown races get decent ratings, but nobody watches the Derby preps (or even the Breeders’ Cup for that matter).
You wanna know what gets good ratings on the TV box these days: Duck Dynasty, WWE Raw, Swamp People, and The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Shit.
Yesterday I took a peek at “What Would Ryan Lochte Do” on the E Network. Two observations: 1) the show blows; and 2) Ryan Lochte is a douche. Heretofore, I only thought Michael Phelps was a douche. Sure, Phelps won like 20 Gold Medals or something so I guess he’s some kind of American hero. But we’re about talking swimming here (and I mean that with all the disdain and ridicule Allen Iverson meant when he was talking about “practice”). The Olympics pumps out dozens of medals for swimming events categorized by distance and swimming stroke (e.g., the 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter, the free style, butterfly, backstroke, and then there’s the relays). That’s why the record for number of Gold Medals won in a single Olympics Phelps broke belonged to another swimmer, Mark Spitz. So if you’re a dominant swimmer you can just rake in the hardware. Good for him.
That doesn’t mean being dominant in your area of expertise is not an achievement. It’s just not as impressive as winning the Decathlon in my book. Or, for that matter, winning multiple Gold Medals over a prolonged period of time in a sport in which you do not dominate. That, my friends, takes effort . . . and a set of stones. If you want to see America’s greatest Olympian, do yourself a favor and look up Al Oerter. He worked a full-time professional gig and in his spare time won 4 Gold Medals as a true amateur Olympian.
But back to Phelps and Lochte. Like I said, I knew Phelps was a goofball, but he can swim. He’s made millions off his fame, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that he’s a tool. Thank God for swimming because that goofy bastard couldn’t get laid in a Tijuana whorehouse with a fistful of twenties. I realize that’s a tired cliché, but the 1st person to ever say that must’ve been saying that about someone just like Phelps. Lochte was Phelps’ rival. He was Aylydar to Phleps’ Affirmed.
Lochte is a handsome guy though; and I say that as a dude who’s comfortable with his manhood and sexuality. In addition to losing to repeatedly to Phelps, Lochte is famous for chasing poon in Vegas with Prince Harry; and I say that as a dude who’s incredibly jealous.
But now Lochte’s got a TV show and it’s dreck. However, it says something about the modern sports and entertainment landscape doesn’t it? I mean, if Lochte were a halfway intelligent, hardworking, low-key, humble, salt-of-the-earth-type guy nobody would watch. Why? Because that would be boring! The guys (and gals) who sit in cubicles all day don’t want to go home and watch people on TV who act like themselves. They want to see crazy-ass people acting like crazy-ass fools. If these crazy-ass people happen to be rich and live in a nice house; well, so much the better.
No shit, one of my favorite shows: Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. Yes, I should be embarrassed for admitting that because it’s pure trash. The show is dumb, the characters are fake, the storylines are preposterous, but it’s like watching one train wreck after another. You know, people getting drunk, acting stupid, banging in the bathroom, fighting in the parking lot, and then going to AA. The characters are horrible and repulsive and I cannot stop watching.
There was a reality show about horse racing a few years back that held promise. It was called “Jockeys” and aired on Animal Planet. It featured Chantal Sutherland who seemed nice and hardworking (and was the nominal “star” because she was somewhat attractive; meaning she had long hair and set of boobs); Mike Smith who seemed nice and hardworking; Jon Court who seemed nice and hardworking; Aaron Gryder who seemed nice and hardworking; and Corey Nakatani who was a complete asshole. Guess what; the ratings sucked and the show was cancelled. From what I recall, the show mostly involved Smith and Sutherland ruminating over their relationship and Kayla Stra’s inability to find the winner’s circle. The Nakatani character would’ve been the catalyst on any other reality show, but on “Jockeys” he received neglible screen time.
The show should’ve been about Nakatani acting like a dick. And to be honest, he needed to ham it up and little and act like even more of a dick than what came naturally. He should’ve been cussing, fighting, getting piss drunk, and snorting coke off the bare ass of a hooker. Heck, Mike Smith should’ve been snorting coke off Chantal Sutherland’s bare ass too! That’s what sells folks. HBO’s scripted series “Luck” was on the right track and may have succeeded if not for those pesky horses that kept dying on them.
No doubt, the racing industry is full of nice, honest, hardworking people. You’ll surely be exposed to a few of them during NBC’s 2 hours of human interest schlock prior to next weekend’s Derby. This brings to mind Alec Baldwin’s infamous “pep talk” in Glengarry Glen Ross, “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids.”
Racing, like any other industry subculture, has its assholes, cheats, and douchebags. To be honest, it probably has more than its fair share. To some that’s a liability, but it could be an asset.
I don’t believe many people watch NASCAR races for the crashes. And just so you know, the way stock cars are designed these days, it’s rare to see any serious injuries even from horrific looking crashes. Jockeys are in far greater danger every time they enter the gate on the back of a horse. A NASCAR driver wrecks and may have a sore neck for a few days; a jockey falls of his horse and may never walk again.
People watch NASCAR to see the drivers going at it against each other; either on the track or better yet, off. WWE style smack talk, pit lane fisticuffs, and helmet throwing. That’s what it’s about. You know what launched NASCAR into mainstream popularity? The 1979 Daytona 500. That’s when the Allison brothers (Donnie and Bobby) got into a fist fight with Cale Yarborough in the middle of the infield after the race. Look it up. It was great theater, and that incident put the redneck regional sport on the map. How popular was horse racing in 1978? How popular was NASCAR in 1978? Yeah, look that up too.
You want to make horse racing popular? How about a jockey fight after the Derby? How about Baffert and Pletcher throwing down in the winner’s circle? A fast horse might win you some money; a super horse might win the Triple Crown (one day); but human drama will bring the ratings, and that can be manufactured quite cheaply my friends.
Question is, how important is it for horse racing to have that kind of popularity? The Devil eagerly awaits your response.