Keep It Positive

When I was in high school, there was no audio-visual club or AV club for me to join. But based on what other people have told me or how AV clubs are portrayed in media, I figure AV clubs fall into categories. Category one is the AV club that shows foreign films or independent films, has panel discussions, and encourages one to look at deeper meanings of film and society.  Category two is a group of nerds that sit around and watch Star Wars and while providing random commentary on the most isolated of details.

Horse racing twitter treads incredibly close to the second category.

I write this as we sit on the Monday of Derby Week, the week when the routine exercise known as morning workouts plays out in front of flashbulbs, when pedigree is more than a brand of dog food, when NBC eschews playoff hockey for horses running in a circle. Derby Week is of course centered on the Kentucky Derby – racing’s Finest Two Minutes – and (shameless self-promotion alert) a race Picks & Ponderings will naturally dissect.

This is a week for racing to celebrate: you have the casual eyeballs of people who will want to watch the splendor of the racing.  You will have the gamblers looking for that once-a-year score.   This is the week when the casual fans come out of the woodwork.  This is the week when betting pools swell.

Instead, racing twitter sees the same amount of bitching and moaning that you’d expect on a routine day.  Some of it is justified, some of it is not.  But it doesn’t exactly put the best foot (or hoof) of the sport forward when the time spent dissecting the Derby or the Humana Distaff is spent bemoaning some other issue in the sport. I understand the “betterment of the sport” and transparency of issues, but this is usually the time of the year when animal rights activists and come back around as well.

The sport is far from perfect – I don’t rest at well knowing how Monmouth’s (and Arlington’s) death by cuts could turn into full on hemorrhages.  I don’t rest well knowing that subsidized racing ovals like Mountaineer are struggling to fill day-to-day cards.  I guess I have to deal with the reality that I’m probably the only one in my graduate school who will print off the Derby past performances after my last final exam. (Mad props to the one at the library streaming Zia during Finals week last Fall!)  But for all the flaws, all the issues, I wish that Derby week was the week racing twitter would just STFU and talk racing. To talk about races and undercards, about trainers and horses, about good times. I’d rather see racing twitter trying to be less isolating and instead trying to be more inclusive this week. Even I will put my usual complaints about the tedious nature of NBC’s story-driven Kentucky Derby Coverage and comparisons to Lifetime network movies aside to enjoy it.

I’d rather wait until next week to bemoan how Whatever Downs is doing Some Stupid Thing to impair racing or its handle.  The sport is far from perfect, but being a killjoy every day and every week about every event gets old and tiresome. The sport is far from perfect, but the closer racing twitter gets to the AV Club that sits around discussing Star Wars each session, the closer I get to joining the drama club.


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