Saturday May 2nd, 2015 was like any other day in sports. That is it was like any other day in sports prior to the rise of cable television in the early 1980's. I am old enough to barely remember those days, but I do remember boxing and horse racing being a very big deal. The idea of event sports, things like horse racing, boxing, the Olympics, kept people around their television when not much else is on. These were also the days where This Week In Baseball, and ABC's Wide World of Sports were being shown alongside Gabe Kaplan's exploits on Battle of the Network Stars. Today our event sports seem to be on the decline in favor of the sports who follow a regular season and have timed stories that the increasingly lazy sports media can regurgitate.
Yesterday was different. Everyone seemed to be interested in the latest super horse at the Kentucky Derby and the latest boxing fight of the century. There was little talk of a boring and played out NFL draft, an epic NBA playoffs game seven, or the tired Yankees-Red Sox rivalry series. Most people were talking about if American Pharaoh can win the triple crown and if "good guy" Manny Pacquiao can beat the villian that is Floyd Mayweather. Buried below these discussions on who would win there was another discussion about how these sports are archaic and have real moral issues. Horse racing has always been plagued by animal abuse, drug allegations (surprising for the horses and the jockeys), and people having to watch horses being euthanized on the track (never forget Hillary Clinton's favorite in the 2008 Kentucky Derby http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Belles. As for the discussions about the latest fight of the century, I am going to post the comments from Ty Kulik when we were discussing the fight yesterday afternoon:
Tonight marks the six years in the making boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather has ducked this fight for years(he was/is afraid of Pacquiao in my opinion) and now sees this as a fitting time since Manny Pacquiao may be past his prime. I see this fight being very boring, as Mayweather will do his patent defense, defense, defense attack approach that will wear Pacquiao out, as he will be on the attack the whole fight. I predict a unanimous decision to go Mayweather's way, unfortunately. What really bothers me about this, besides the fact that it's almost a decade to late, is Floyd Mayweather's attitude towards this fight. He's a money grubbing, wife and girlfriend beating, crybaby that won't allow press that has written or said anything bad about him to be part of the coverage. He's the epitome of a joke in my book and for a sport that, for all intents and purposes is dead, this fight is only about the gambling. I will be rooting very hard for a Pacquiao win, but I just don't see it in the cards.
Horse racing and boxing events will never be dead. The interest due to how infrequent the big event happens will always capture the minds, and wallets, of the public. Their issues will continue to haunt us. It is up to us that we remember in our enjoyment, we are the ones with the power to create conversation about the issues. Our conversation will be the catalyst for the positive change we need.
I was never able to find any evidence of these issues with Gabe Kaplan, so I left Battle of the Network Stars out of our discussion on immorality in event sports.