Sunday, June 17, 2018
From Goal Posts to Post Times?

One of the themes that we'll explore in this space centers on the kind of aggressive thinking that can help to significantly grow and sustain the Thoroughbred horse racing industry. These ideas will invariably exist somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from the practical to the quixotic. And the first "big idea" to be visited -- leveraging the National Football League's rabid following to grow horse racing's broader appeal -- fits that description. Not manifestly practical but not utterly quixotic either.

It is virtually impossible to live in the United States and be unaware that another NFL season has started. Those involved in the promotion of Thoroughbred horse racing must regard this juggernaut of a spectator sport with envy and awe. In the last decade or two the NFL's explosive popularity has left horse racing and most other major sports reeling in its wake. Surveys generally reveal that better than one in pulaski_countythree of all sports fans consider pro football to be their favorite sport. At the other extreme, surveys typically indicate that horse racing is most favored by one or two in every hundred sports fans.

This point is underscored every fall during horse racing's championship event -- the Breeders' Cup World Championships. Organizers of the Breeders' Cup do not even attempt to compete with the NFL on Sunday, choosing rather to stage the now two-day event on Friday and Saturday instead of the more logical Saturday and Sunday. And despite this concession, television ratings and mainstream awareness of the Breeders' Cup continues to trend downward. What was designed to be a championship event shared with the general public and mainstream media to advance the sport struggles to remain viable under the shadow of pro and college football. It's little wonder that the Breeders' Cup leadership has honed in on internationalization as a new growth strategy.

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