Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tis The Season


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, December 17, 2011—Christmas Eve is a week from today and I’m not sure I’m ready for that psychologically. In fact, I know I’m not, and that’s no way to feel on “Super Saturday,” is it.

Really, how can any ordinary American, which I consider myself to be, be spiritually ready to embrace the concept of peace on earth and good will towards men and women?

People these days are always talking new paradigm, such as how government, or Thoroughbred racing is supposed to work, a different way to recapture former glory--at least for those who’ve been around enough to appreciate such a notion.

Here’s an idea; how about a new paradigm for Christmas? How about going back to the future, before there was such a thing as “Cyber Monday.”

Deck the halls… and harken back to a time when elected officials didn’t play politics with the lives of 160 million Americans who work for a living, the 90 percent who have jobs, a time when legislative gridlock wasn’t policy.

Consider this, K-Mart shoppers, that in 2009 Time magazine estimated that one of every 50 children in America were homeless. According to the latest estimates, that figure is now one in 45.

Tis the season…so how about going back to a time culturally when Thanksgiving didn’t mean Christmas is already here, when Yuletide didn’t signal it was time to begin compiling high-light, low-light, best-of, and worst-of lists, a time to bend over and kiss another year gone by.

Wouldn’t it be nice this Christmas if middle class Americans could occupy jobs and homes, not tents in the street, that being fair were more than just a baseball term? Terms had limits…fala-la-lala, lala-la-la.

How about going back 10 years and think about spending a couple of trillion dollars to fix broken schools, roads, bridges and rails and not on two wars fought and paid for with the lives of America’s best young people.

Then there’s the racetrack, where every day is heaven and every day is hell and the trick is not getting too high or too low, learning to sit down while the boat rocks.

For this game I’d love to find an equine Moses, have him or her gift-wrapped, and present this person to an industry badly in need of leadership, even if Thoroughbred racing is often more naughty than nice.

With fewer races on the Christmas list docket, post times could be staggered to help grow the handle, and free past performance data so that new players wouldn’t have to pay to learn so that they may earn.

Now, with fewer race days and this new paradigm—that word again--bettors could bet with real time odds while going up against an optimally lower takeout, the price point that becomes a universal rebate and ultimate revenue generator.

Or should we commission a few more studies, instead?

My Christmas wish would give regulators all the tools and dollars they need to continue striving toward uniform medication rules, that’s if I couldn’t eliminate race-day medication altogether.

I would build the game a national racing channel modeled after CNBC with new statistical handicapping data that’s less arcane and so logical that a high-schooler with a GED could do it.

I’d allow television to coordinate post times within a five-minute simulcast window on this new national news, handicapping and wagering network, segregating racetracks by time zone circuits; Eastern, Midwest and West.

And I would buy an HD signal for all my friends.

I think about these things because I cannot possibly live up to a Hallmark standard of what Christmas is supposed to be. I've become resentful of a season in which “Black Friday” used to be more about family fun and less about pepper spray.

Because all we’ve learned to do in America the last three decades is to become good at shopping. Can’t fool us. We’re sophisticated now, knowing there’s a difference between half off and buy one get one free. In the age of LOL and OMG, make that BOGO.

For a holiday meant to be about love and wonder and generosity, we now celebrate a season gone mad, where expectation often runs a bad second to dread; concerns about spending too much, too little, wrong size, wrong label.

This year in America I've been compelled to rethink Christmas. I don't need to make myself “feel” the Christmas spirit. One season of paying lip service to peace and good will cannot possibly erase the sadness and pain of a runaway American dream.

It is what it is, they say, and Christmas shall be whatever it can be. So I’m treading lightly, trying not to overthink what Christmas in America has become. I will celebrate it by being grateful for all my blessings; family, good friends, and a living that’s more a way of life than a job.

I surely can’t complain and I surely can’t fix what’s wrong. I don’t know how to fix it and that makes me mad as hell. I ask you: Is that anyway to feel a week and a lifetime away from what Christmas in America used to mean?

WWJD?

Written by John Pricci

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