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Monday, March 16, 2015

Head Shaking Moments

One thing which never fails is there is a head shaking moment at the USTA Annual Meeting.  This year's came when they discussed the proposed rule changes; allowing directors to make comments about the proposals.

When bringing up the proposals regarding RUS, the presenter mentioned the good thing about RUS is it allows for more wagering interests (at least 12 on the mile track in a single row; 10 on a half mile oval).  There was no mention on how it would make the sport attractive to a new demographic, females as participants, horse owners, and gamblers; it also would provide variety for racing fans.

Also mentioned was his belief it would be years before there is parimutuel wagering.  Why?  I don't know.  It took no more than two or three years before there was wagering in Canada on RUS.  True, once the USTA rules are adopted, there will be a need for racing commissions to approve rules and in some states, possibly legislative changes to the rules to allow RUS as a permissible form of standardbred racing, but years?  Various states will proceed at different rates, but there is no reason why the first states couldn't have RUS racing with wagering in a year or two.  To his credit, the rules presenter did indicate Ontario has has RUS races and handle on those races either matched or surpassed typical wagering on those races.

Then came the comments from the crowd.  Director Sam Beegle mentioned that Pennsylvania wouldn't have RUS racing, claiming the tracks didn't want it due to the need for a more expensive insurance premium for RUS versus traditional races (it may be true); under current rules, any profit would go to thoroughbred interests.  As a result they have no interest in it.

Well, the tracks may not want it due to the insurance costs but trust me if RUS racing becomes successful elsewhere, the tracks would reconsider it even with higher insurance costs.  Pennsylvania is rewriting their racing rules via legislation so if Pennsylvania horsemen were so inclined, they could have worked this bill to get RUS racing under the purview of standardbred racing.

But my question is why these objections were brought up?  Don't plan on racing RUS for whatever reason, fine; there is no reason to object to the proposed rule changes.  At worst, the Pennsylvania attitude should be "While RUS isn't for us, go knock your socks off.  The rule doesn't change what we will do or not."   The worst attitude for non-believers of RUS should be indifference, changing the rules doesn't change a thing for them.

If people who oppose RUS were honest with themselves, their real objection would be they like things the way they are.  They don't want to see RUS because it is something different; something they don't understand or fear as a threat to the status-quo, as if the status-quo is good.

Here lies the problem with many of the established USTA Directors, they lack the vision or courage to change,  If you have problems unique to your state (such as the profit going to another breed), you go and work on it; you don't try to torpedo a proposed rule change.  If you don't think your members want to race RUS, go ahead pass the bill for those who want to try it.  What's the harm in letting those who want to try RUS do it?   You don't stand in their way.

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