Saturday, November 24, 2012
When Trees Fall in the Forest… Does Anyone Care?
LOS ANGELES, November 23, 2012--I might never have seen the well-written, caustic rebuttal to my initial blog piece on Derby eligibility point systems that appeared at "Fugue for Tinhorns" if a friend hadn’t sent me a heads-up. Hoping to fuel some debate, I added a comment to the piece with a link to Glenn Craven’s article.
I also enjoyed an entertaining exchange with the author at his site. Eventually, I addressed some of his points in comments to his rebuttal. It was a very positive experience, to say the least.
So when no response was forthcoming from the author of the HANA blog piece I rebutted "here, I emailed him a link to his contact address as a board member on the HANA website.
(The return email was sent from his personal account, and so I didn’t consider it as coming from a representative of HANA).
He politely acknowledged the material at the link but without specificity. The extended discussion of funding that I desired seems unlikely to take place. Since no one else from HANA has shown any interest, I doubt that we’ll see those accepting dues under any of the conditions proposed by either myself or Mr. Pricci.
[Ed. Note: While there was a modicum of support for Indulto’s proposal at HRI, the response was extremely disappointing, especially considering the level of vitriol expressed here by horseplayers when they feel they are underappreciated. This is an example of the kind of indifference the industry has depended upon for years].
Resultantly, time may have arrived to consider an alternative to HANA; an organization that could utilize HANA’s expertise, if available, but with a more effective mission, structure, and a leadership that would have been determined in a more democratic fashion.
Despite having been launched at an interactive forum, HANA has not, to my knowledge, continued to promote real-time public discussion among ALL its members. There seems to be no way for non-board members to meet one another spontaneously, no outlet for independent, public discussion that others can participate in and expand the conversation.
I’ve heard rumors that a message board exists for HANA board members. Perhaps some non-board members have been invited to access it but I’ve never seen any specifics. The HANA blog allows comments, but each is delayed by required approval prior to being displayed.
Consequently, a membership has been created that generally can’t find out what other like (or unlike) minds they might be involved with, what issues are being addressed, what input has been provided, and whether it had been accepted or ignored.
Knowing the status of outstanding issues should not be a luxury but a requirement Does anyone else see this as an inhibitor to growth?
I believe that NOTHING WILL CHANGE to benefit the majority of non-professional bettors unless and until rank and file horseplayers are willing to come together to be counted – anonymously or otherwise -- to express our support for collective representation.
The first step is to prove to the industry that we are out there, IN THE AGGREGATE -- willing to collectively demonstrate our support for reform. How else can we help restore the previous levels of enjoyment and entertainment to the game in which we’ve spent a lifetime pursuing profit with passion under the assumption of fairness?
For that to occur, however, those currently involved in this process need to become more inclusive of others instead of being inhibited by what we’ll call the Internet Anonymity Fear Factor.
There seems to be an evangelical aspect to using one’s given name in cyberspace because I keep encountering some that do while demanding that others do the same; particularly anyone critical of their positions. Their contention is that it’s all too easy to criticize while "hiding" behind a pseudonym.
In our view, to assume that "who one is" is more important than "what one has to say," suggests an arrogance no less defeating than the apathy well-meant activism attempts to overcome.
Times have changed. Unlike the good old days when players were able to meet face-to-face with other like-minded activists at the local track, today’s issues affect horseplayers nationwide via not only brick-and-mortar simulcasts but by an increasing number of players preferring to bet on-line.
Pseudonyms do pose a challenge for those overly concerned with not saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Is it any wonder that anonymous input providers are treated like lumberjacks in a sound-proof forest?
I wonder whether it’s easier to criticize anonymously or easier to ignore anonymous criticism. The Internet as communication medium is popular because it enables people to speak their minds without fear of off-line reprisals. Consider that the average non-celebrity or non-industry-employed horseplayer just might question sacrificing his privacy merely to provide legitimacy to a handful of bright but increasingly ignored individuals.
No ability yet has been demonstrated to effect changes critical to the majority of the represented. We now know that a volunteer think-tank/social club is not the ideal model to get horseplayers recruited and organized in large numbers. That model might suffice for what has been accomplished but not what’s been left undone.
Takeout: Killing the sport one customer at a time
The above sub-title came from an anonymous long-time advocate I’ve never met but who exemplifies my conviction that good ideas are more likely the product of sources without name recognition. Apathy is our worst enemy but arrogance is no more acceptable from within our ranks then from without.
If a horseplayer advocacy group ever does create an interactive forum for all its members, perhaps it should mandate the use of nicknames for public discussion and provide private messaging for personal conversations, including the exchange of identities or email addresses and the like if desired.
Let ideas speak for themselves. Enable the entire population to indicate their support for action on issues through frequent on-line polling. Leaders will emerge from the free exchange of ideas, confirmed via regularly scheduled on-line elections that would include a provision for funding dedicated for providing the necessary services in order to achieve results.
The preceding was the basis for a concept my friend, Vern, labeled SPARTACUS (Supporters of Player Action to Reduce Takeout for All Customers Uniformly in Stages) to reflect the concept of competitive equals rising up against existing corrupt controlling interests.
The idea was to create a gathering place for like-minded people willing not only to explore common objectives by debating merits and pitfalls but also to determine productive ways to deal with each other on different issues.
If an approach could be found to carefully craft well-conceived goals leading to consensus, leaders providing the most credible support for the majority positions would emerge and be recognized. Together these leaders could convert members and delegate authority for the good of all.
I’ve yet to hear a more practical way for the average horse-betting enthusiast to develop a voice too loud to be diluted by conflicting interests or dismissed entirely by the industry.
More people viewing and participating in on-line discussions would offer more opportunities to forge new friendships. A major concern is, of course, the cost to operate an Internet forum that accommodates in excess of 100,000 players.
Perhaps the founders of such a group could become stock-holders in a for-profit horseracing research data-base utility company providing revenue-generating access to test handicapping or wagering strategies, as well as to fulfill horse breeding, safety, and disposition queries.
Non-anonymous members could buy new shares if desired. Both anonymous and non-anonymous customers could also vote in matters pertaining to horseplayer advocacy; communicating on a forum supported by the aforementioned data-base operation.
Even with technology-experienced practitioners, funding is the primary obstacle to be overcome. What could entice a trusted name to step forward to get things under way? Unfortunately, anonymity doesn’t measure up in such circumstances. Neither does apathy.