The things I do for horse racing …



Let me count the ways. I blog about it. I sign petitions for “racinos” to beef up purses and breeders supplements. When I do get to go to the track, I eat all my meals there and shop in the gift shop, too.

Plus, I recently spent 40 minutes answering questions for a telephone survey about sports with the sole purpose of promoting horse racing on TV.

Because the only sports I watch on TV with any regularity involve horses.

And, daggone it – I wanted to be heard.

Trust me, there were moments during that phone survey when I wanted to bail.

A flawed survey after all

First, the survey person asks:

“Is there a man over the age of 18 in the house?”

There was no way I was going to relinquish the phone to my husband who is an engineer who, may work in sports TV, but is ho-hum about the action. Any action. Lucky me – the truth was in my favor this time.

But I had an admission to make, right off the top, that might make or break my qualifications to take the survey. I think I ran all the words together before taking a breath:

Yes but he doesn’t watch sports in his free time plus he works for a TV sports network. ::breathe::

After all, most surveys include the question, “Does anyone in the household work in media?” The answer usually disqualifies me for any survey.

And yet – wonder of wonders – despite my admitted connections,  she still used me as a survey respondent.

40 minutes of the world’s longest phone survey

What almost sank my efforts was the endless listing of sports with only multiple choice answers ranging from “I wouldn’t miss it” to “not at all.” Like …

“Do you follow mens tennis?” Not at all. “Do you follow NHL hockey?” Not at all. “Do you follow skiing?” Not at all. “Do you follow …?”::yawn::

The list felt endless – apparently, everything but ping pong and curling. Or any of the other equestrian sports, either.

But I steeled my resolve and stayed on the phone.

Questions I could answer

But I did ‘fess up, though, that I occasionally do watch — gasp! — some other sports.

I will watch some figure skating  on TV. And I did watch the Indy 500 the year before last because we’d just brought home a big HDTV. And I do pay attention to the Kentucky Wildcats when they make it to the Final Four, but I try not to watch because they choke when I watch the game. (Yes, my power is that great, my friends.) And we happened to tune in when Michael Phelps won that eighth gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing.

Anyway, I revived a little when she asked, “Who’s your favorite athlete?”

Unlike a diehard team sports fan, I tend to switch loyalties, partly depending upon who is still active in the game.  A horse’s lay-up means I go looking for a new team to cheer. So, yes, I suppose that makes me a “fair-weather” fan.

So, I told her my current fave.

Calvin Borel

“How do you spell that?”

C-a-l …

Another question that I could answer came up. “Who’s your favorite team?”

Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel

“Who? What? Can you spell that?”

Sure. It’s a horse and jockey. They’re a team. M-i-n…

More, more, more

Among the questions I fielded to determine my sports-viewing habits, I was asked what sports publications I receive.

The only copy of Sports Illustrated that I’ve bought home in the past decade or so has — guess who? — Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel on the cover.

I don’t receive any of the racing magazines, so I told her about the two sports publications that I do receive — The Walking Horse Report and The Voice of the Tennessee Walking Horse.

Too bad I can’t be a fly on the wall when the survey’s analysts look up those two publications. Talk about obscure equestrian sports.

Creators of ultra-long surveys should realize that people get tired and that the quality of the responses is going to slide as time passes. Even for people like me – passionate folks with an agenda.

You can tell what they’re really asking

If you have the time and patience to hang in with a telephone survey, after a while, you can get the gist of what they really want to know.

This one had a scores of questions clouding the real questions. But some common threads ran through them all, starting with:

“Can you name the sponsors of NFL football?”

But I said told you I don’t watch NFL football.

“Can you name some NFL football sponsors?”

Oh, why not? I’ll give it a shot.

(FWIW, if I were conducting a survey, I would not want to hear a respondent say that.)

Especially if I were wondering about the effectiveness of corporate sponsorship of sporting events.

Bottom line: corporate sponsorships are important to sports

Although she didn’t ask, I told her before the call ended that I know who the sponsors of horse racing are.

I told her that I know who sponsors the Triple Crown races as well as the undercards. I can also tell you the name of company  on the jockeys’ pants. And I know who sponsors the Breeder’s Cup.

I told her what she was looking for – if you’re a fan of a particular sport, you know which corporations are supporting it.

But the call didn’t give me a chance to give the whole picture

Despite how long the call was, after we disconnected and I stretched the kinks out of my neck, I realized that I hadn’t given good props to the other equestrian sports.

When I was a child back home in Kentucky, my grandfather and I used to watch rodeo together when it was on ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

Plus, whenever I can, I attend horse shows of all disciplines – from hunter/jumper to the saddleseat disciplines to western timed events. A quick intro at UCONN a couple of years ago makes me want to take in some arena polo matches this fall. And I’d love to see cowboy mounted shooting on TV.

So, in that respect, I could have represented for ALL of my equestrian peeps. Rats! An opportunity missed!

Time to go scrolling through my caller ID to find that phone survey company again.

  • Amelie Rencontres
    July 3, 2009

    The horse racing is my passion. I broke my leg when I was 16 and then I only watch horse racing on the TV.

    • rhond7
      July 3, 2009

      Hi, Amelie. Great to hear from another race fan.

  • Zak
    July 6, 2009

    horse racing is great as soon as you dont start gambling 🙂
    You could do terrible losts

    • rhond7
      July 6, 2009

      That’s a very good point, Zak. It’s entirely possible to go to the track and have a great time without betting.

      Still, a few $2 bets on some races during the occasional day at the races is entirely different from getting hooked on gambling. IMO, gambling is like using alcohol. There’s a difference between, say, having some wine at dinner and tying one on. (You can choose your favorite euphemism for overindulging in alchohol.) So, when we choose to bet, we should be responsible about it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Zak, because what you said is worth saying and thinking about.

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