Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Let's run the Derby w/o jockeys

I did some checking and just as I’d feared the only enduring national sporting event still on the calendar involves competitive hot dog eating.

Yes, set your DVRs, Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is set to take place July 4th, 10:30 to 3:30, on Coney Island. Last year, the top three contestants ate 71, 50 and 47 hot dogs in 10 minutes

The event used to dismay me because I sensed we could end world hunger by fore-going the all-American gluttony. Now that toilet paper shortages are on everyone’s mind, I wonder if as an unforeseen secondary gastro-intestinal benefit we could end world wiping.

My fear is that by the time the hot dog eating contest is held, I’ll be so sports- deprived I’ll actually give a crap — that’s assuming there’s still enough food to keep my bowels functioning.

The absence of live marquee sports is where COVID-19 is impacting a-not- insignificant number of shallow men like myself. Because this is maybe the best time of year to watch sports on TV.

There’s March Madness, NHL playoffs, The Masters and professional baseball’s opening day. All gone.

And I just read that one of my favorite events, The Kentucky Derby, has postponed until September.

The move seems short-sighted — and, please, don’t interpret that as a cheap shot joke about the diminutive jockeys.

In fact, I propose they run the race as scheduled for the first time without jockeys.

I mean, are jockeys really necessary to horse racing?

I’m no NASCAR fan, but I appreciate the necessity of a human driver to automobile racing. There’s a reason every race begins with the announcer dramatically intoning — and it’s been a while so I’m guessing here — “Gentlemen and Danica Patrick start your engines!”

Without the human driver, the sport would be like three hours of drinking over-priced domestic beer and staring from afar at a crowded parking lot full of expensive cars with parts decals.

(God help me, right now even that sounds fun.)

But a horse doesn’t need a human to run around a track.

Now, fuddy-duddy purists will say jockeys are essential to enjoying “the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.”

That’s bullcrap. Horsecrap, actually.

In fact, if I have any complaint about Derby Day, it has nothing to do with the pageantry or the conditions and everything to do with the brevity. What could be better than a 2-minute mile-and-a-quarter race? How about a 2-hour one.

That’s what might happen in a jockeyless race. 

“And they’re off!”

Or not. 

With no jockeys to kick or whip the animals — hello PETA — into motion, these thoroughbreds might just stand there, giving viewers a chance to sip fine Kentucky bourbon and bask in their magnificence.

“Race” officials could then introduce primal incentives to coax the horses ‘round the track. I’m thinking a bucket of premium oats or, better, a pretty filly in fragrant heat.

My, the times I’ve dashed a mile-and-a-quarter for that kind of recreation.

So I hope they can with some alterations still hold the Kentucky Derby. I’ll need something to get me through the spring sports drought.

Either that or else I’m going to have to start following the news more closely.

Tell me: Anything going on I should know about?

Related …

No comments: