May 9, 2011

"[T]he Kentucky Derby ain't what it once was for most of America..."

"... nor are the Penn Relays, America's Cup, the PBA Tour, Indianapolis 500 or prize fights anywhere close to where they once were in popular consciousness. Is this an irretrievable decline? Or does Barbaro-mania suggest that any of them could come back at any time -- it just takes the right star?"

90 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

You've got to be kidding.

The Indianapolis 500 still draws 400,000 people every year.

MadisonMan said...

Cable TV is to blame. Or Obama. Or Bush. Or Gay Marriage. Or Roe v. Wade.

Some one or thing is certainly always to blame for things not staying the same as they have ever been.

E.M. Davis said...

The reputation of the Indy 500 was decimated by the civil war that occurred within the open wheel organization. I still love the fact that the winner drinks milk.

ST, people still attend, but the race does not hold the national fascination it once did.

I would argue the Derby still does, and if you've got a triple-crown possibility, then attention is heightened. But it's 2 minutes one Saturday in May.

The PBA? Bowling isn't as fun to watch as it is to do. More people bowl annually that attend all major sports combined.

And I had no idea what the Penn Relays were.

AllenS said...

Following the Milwaukee Brewers this season, I've noticed a lot less people at the games. Home, or on the road. The Green Bay Packers, who are the SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!, are going to add 7,500 more seats to the best stadium IN THE WHOLE WORLD! They'll fill them too.

MadisonMan said...

AllenS, the result of the recent woeful Road Trip isn't going to help the Brewers.

John said...

When I was a kid in the Bronx in the 60'sthe major sports were baseball, horse racing and boxing. Baseball is ding well but the others have fallen off a cliff.

k*thy said...

Allen, we'll be there Saturday, with a group of 50.

Ron said...

PJ O'Rourke may have hit it on the head about cars; we don't love them like we once did. So, Indy and NASCAR remain vital pockets, but they're not as significant as they used to be to the general culture.

al said...

Auto racing in general is suffering at the hands of the ADD generation. Some people are no longer willing to invest that much time (and money) in a sporting event. I always watch the Indy 500. I'd love to go but it never seems to work out.

The Kentucky Derby is an event I'd love to attend but I just wouldn't fit in.

AllenS said...

MadMan,

We weren't that good last year either, and we had way better crowds, at home or away.

Shouting Thomas said...

Yes, the Indy 500 does still "hold the national fascinations..."

The car, hotrod, antique car, NASCAR thing is huge. You just don't follow it. Tens of millions do.

Do you have any idea how many tens of millions of people organize their entire lives around the car show, race or rally coming up next weekend?

The Indy 500 is probably the most watched, most anticipated and most highly regarded sports show of every year.

You need to pal around with people who like pickup trucks, hotrods and motorcycles.

A sports event that is followed by tens of millions of people is hardly lacking followers or a place in our consciousness.

DADvocate said...

Most of my friends and acquaitances are Kentuckians, thus the Derby is still big in my circle although not for me, never has been.

I went to high school in Tennessee with a girl named Churchhill. She talked about how she always went to the Derby every year, loved horses, rode, etc. Not being into horse racing, it wasn't until years later that it struck that her last name matched the Derby track's name. Maybe, I'll run into her someday and can ask about the connection.

NASCAR has put a huge dent in the Indy 500 interest. Bowling? I've never known the name of any professional bowler. I'd forgot all about the Penn Relays.

Football is huge. Several colleges have larger stadiums than any pro team.

edutcher said...

The rising costs, and the lack of network TV coverage have done in some of these events (the article linked at the link included the World Series, so add player unions). Miss America is in the same boat.

Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, the Penn Relays never struck me as that big a deal nationally (my Dad, a Cornell man, went to them often). Ivy League sports are a different animal, more chi-chi in tone. Same with the America's Cup.

CBS carried racing on Saturday afternoons for decades and the Triple Crown was part of that coverage. When it went to ABC, they had to stick Humble Howard in front of the camera and I can imagine it turned off viewers. Now, it's buried on cable.

Some of it is the fragmentation of the audience. There was a sense of community that isn't there.

MadisonMan said...

I've never known the name of any professional bowler.

Earl Anthony! But I only know that because Anthony Earl was a Wisconsin Governor back in the 80s.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
As my whimsy leads me.. said...

The Kentucky Derby had record attendance this year--164,858, which broke the previous record set in 1974. That was without any particular excitement-generating horse. Most people outside the horse business or the Kentucky-Southern Indiana-Southwest Ohio area don't know about it until the day before, at best. FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY, folks! So it will always be sometime May 1-7.


I think the whole lack of traditional event attention goes along with the extremely high number of TV options. When there were only 3 stations, they had a certain rhythm for the year. The same way we looked forward to seeing The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, or Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer only once a year.

Toy

WV: sphorse. Animal Kingdom is a good horse, but not a special or super horse, unless he wins the Preakness and Belmont.

jerryofva said...

I has a thing with a Tony Bentenhausen's niece. She used to go to the 500 every year until she got to see her uncle die on the track.

She ended up at Indiana University in the Arts Adminstration program and went on from there to work for the circus in Baraboo WI. I doubt she reads this blog or even if she is still alive (She smoked continuously) but if she does I hope she contacts me. :)

traditionalguy said...

The Derby is a socialite gathering of those with significant money and little to do. It fills a place on the schedule of such gatherings of the rich as does the Masters, the Forest Hills, etc. Can you see being a hero for buying the right horse? Only the rich can do that.

Cedarford said...

Some factors:

1. Decline in wealth and security of the middle class is putting sports fans in positions to cutback. Coupled with all these events having business promoters that pushed ticket prices higher and higher.
2. Cable, recorders mean you can watch anytime at your convenience vs. going to the event.
3. Loss of sense of identifying with the athlete. "I could be him/her someday" "I could have been him/her if I was just a little more talented and worked harder." Sports success is now very exclusionary - unless you are already in a elite gymnastics, tennis, swimming, iceskating program by age 8, you have no hope. Certain sports once thought open to all to rise to the top if they had aptitude greater than their neighborhood peers, worked hard - are walled off. You can't be a top male marathoner these days without East African dominant genes, or a sprinter without Congolese West African fast twitchmuscle fibers.
4. Competition by other entertainment media - games, internet, staying in cell phone chat with friends for hours instead ofdoing anything.
5. Many of the sports in decline are sports that "rose with" the technology of their day into big commercial deals (radio for baseball, boxing, horse betting), (TV for tennis, football) - and the markets matured and filled to maximum. The "feeder" organizations prepping youth for sports are showing participation declines for Baseball, basketball, football that manifested for tennis, track and field a generation earlier.
5. Overfocus on womens's sports thanks to Title IX "equality". Failure of womans pro softball, golf (save the you know who fans), WNBA tocatch on as viable entities.
6. Time perception. Shorter attention spans. A sense that you are wasting it just sitting on a plane, a ballpark unless you are "productively doing something else".

Pogo said...

We have lotsa people, but no core culture.

There are far fewer shared TV shows, movies, and events.

Yet I know who Snooki is, even though I've never seen the show or read an article about her.

So this is less about "bowling alone" than true diversity (as much as the word gags me).

Richard Dolan said...

The Kentucky Derby never was what it once wasn't for most of America, and neither wasn't the Penn Relays, America's Cup, the PBA Tour, the Indy 500, or even American Idol.

They're all an acquired taste that (thankfully) most never acquire. As spectator sports, none of them compares with opera.

A. Shmendrik said...

And who can forget the unrelenting competiton for attention from the Althouse blog. Everybody who is anybody is doing it.

E.M. Davis said...

Yes, the Indy 500 does still "hold the national fascinations..."

The car, hotrod, antique car, NASCAR thing is huge. You just don't follow it. Tens of millions do.


Well, if you lump it in with all of those other things, especially NASCAR (which has declined in ratings the past few years) then yes, you are correct.

I was talking about the annual event in terms of it's impact on sports in general.

My dad goes to the races practically every weekend and he as been a fan of local (open wheel, modified, NASCAR) since the 50s.

E.M. Davis said...

The Derby is a socialite gathering of those with significant money and little to do.

Have you ever been to the infield? Those ain't socialites.

edutcher said...

People keep talking about attendance at these events. Those are the hard core fans, but they can't cover the overhead.

The money these days is in TV and similar revenues. If people aren't watching, the event is hurting.

travis said...

It's tough for boxing to match its success of the 70's and 80's - the talent just isn't there. That era provided us with Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Foreman, Hearns, Hagler, Leonard, etc.

This era has brought us some exciting fighters, but the talent pool just isn't as deep. Hell, Floyd Mayweather, one of the pound-for-pound best, is ducking opponents. You never saw Ali or Frazier or any of those guys duck anyone.

That being said, the Pacquiao-Mosley fight this weekend sold out the MGM Grand and will probably do 1.2 million PPV buys.

It'll take a few great American heavyweights to help return boxing to its deserved glory.

KLDAVIS said...

I really enjoy horse-racing. It's a great activity here...ever since the old depressing grandstand burned down and they rebuilt the place with an eye toward attracting the suburban family demographic. It's a fun day in the sun with the prospect of making a few bucks, or at least enough to pay for over-priced concessions and gas. My wife and I traveled to Kentucky recently and really enjoyed Keeneland, which they say is nicer than Churchill Downs 364 days of the year.

PatHMV said...

The Indy 500 was once just about the only auto race on TV, and thus was watched by LOTS of people. But now, you can see very competitive races pretty much any weekend you want. Same with most of the rest. Formerly lesser events are now given the same star treatment by TV sports programming, with A-list commentators and umpteen-jillion cameras and computerized graphics and stats and you name it.

What sets the PBA or the Indy 500 or the boxing heavyweight championship apart, in that environment? Not much, hence we pay less attention to them (relatively speaking).

traditionalguy said...

E. M. Davis...The Grandstand crowd would never be caught dead rubbing shoulders with the infield crowd who shows up on race day. The Derby is not that race. It is the 4 day meet and greet social event where a horse race happens to signal the end of the event.

ironrailsironweights said...

It'll take a few great American heavyweights to help return boxing to its deserved glory.

Even one American heavyweight might give the sport a real boost if (a) he is highly charismatic (think Muhammed Ali) and (b) defeats holders of the other alphabet-soup titles to become the undisputed champion. Neither of these looks particularly likely anytime soon.

No matter what, boxing's popularity is going to be limited by the fact that greedy promoters put most of the major fights on pay-per-view, or at least on extra-cost HBO and Showtime. Get the big fights back on free TV where they belong, and boxing will be less of a fringe sport like it's long since become.

Peter

Methadras said...

It's like watching MMA vs. Boxing. Boxing is clearly in decline with major fights only happening so often if at all. I watched the Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight and it was awful. Even the undercards were bizarre. Some sports are fading away and we are seeing that happen and are saddened by it.

Titus said...

I wanted Nehro to win the Derby, took 2nd.

Michael K said...

The America's Cup was an amateur event for 100 years. Maybe not the sport of choice for most but sailing is still a huge sport. I took a football coach with me as crew on a local race one day. Boy, was that an education for him ! He thought we watched seagulls. Anyway, the America's Cup has become a spending contest for billionaires and the crews are all professional. It is harder and harder to identify with it.

EDH said...

"The Kentucky Derby ain't what it once was for most of America..."

News Flash! "The Old Gray Mare Ain't What She Used to Be."

write_effort said...

5. Overfocus on womens's sports thanks to Title IX "equality". Failure of womans pro softball, golf (save the you know who fans), WNBA to catch on as viable entities.

How did this hurt the draw of other sports? Or is this a stretch of the "gay marriage demeans all marriage" argument? Women playing golf decreases the attraction of watching NASCAR. (Guess MadisonMan was right.)

Mary Beth said...

It is the 4 day meet and greet social event where a horse race happens to signal the end of the event.

Four days? We started the party two weeks ago with Thunder Over Louisville.

If you think it is just an event for snobby people, you are associating with the wrong kind of people.

Trooper York said...

The problem with sports and attendance is that going to the game is a young mans thing. When I was younger I had season tickets to the Yankees, Knicks, Giants and the monthly boxing card at the Felt Forum. I was at an event every couple of days.

But once you are older and married and have kids it is impossible to devote that much time to it.

Plus the price. When I first got Knick tickets they were $12.50 per seat per game (1979)

The last year I had them (2002) the same seats were $150 per seat per game. You just can't do it.

Original Mike said...

I was cheering for Mrs. Clinton, er... Pants on Fire.

Trooper York said...

The other thing is kids today would rather play a video game about football than go outside and play football or go to the game.

These kids today!

Steve Koch said...

Prize fighting is still hugely popular, the difference being that now MMA is the type of prize fighting that is popular, rather than boxing.

Boxing will never recover the popularity that it has lost to MMA. MMA is just intrinsically far more effective, technical, multi-dimensional, violent, and interesting than boxing.

travis said...

@Methadras

I watched the Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight and it was awful.

Pretty hard to say that fight was awful. It was an offensive vs. defensive matchup, and even though it didn't have the typical Pacquiao fireworks, there was still action.


Even the undercards were bizarre.

Bizarre? The Arce/Vasquez fight was probably the most exciting fight of the year (IMHO surpassing Khan v. Maidana and Berto v. Ortiz).



Anyway, for the MMA vs. Boxing debate, I don't see what's so compelling about two guys rolling around on the ground. I think MMA is for a generation with short attention spans. MMA provides many exciting knockouts (see e.g. Krocop) but few great fights. Boxing's back-and-forth, continued action is unmatched.

Tibore said...

"The Indy 500 is probably the most watched, most anticipated and most highly regarded sports show of every year."

God, I wish that were true. Speaking as a guy who followed everything through the split to the reunification and actually took the time to watch both IRL and CART/Champ races prior to reunification, I want the 500 to return to its days of glory.

Unfortunately, the numerical measurements say that it's slipping. The 2010 Indy 500 pulled in a 3.68 rating. the '09 one a 3.9. '08 was a 4.5. That curve is sloping the wrong way. A ratings point equals 1.1 million viewers, so you can do the math: 4.9 million viewers in '08, 4.2 million in '09, 4 million in 2010.

Contrast that 14.1 million viewers in '92.

Yeah, the split was ruinous. But worse yet, the reunification didn't boost viewership all that much.

I hate that the blog piece said what it did, but I can't really deny that it's got a point. It bothers me immensely, but it's got a point. And that's not the only blog to ask that question; Indycar blogger/fan George Phillips asked the same question last year:
Is the Indy 500 Still Relevant?

More info:
http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2009/05/indianapolis-500-numbers-game

It pissses me off, but measurements are measurements. What Randy Bernard now needs to work on is upping those numbers again. Hard to do in today's society, but that's the task.

ricpic said...

Barry Irwin, the owner of Animal Kingdom, said that all of the trainers he had to deal with prior to his present trainer lied to him, he said it on TV, on the way to the winner's circle!

Old Navy said...

Michael K - you must be thinking of another Ameerica's Cup if you thought it was something other than big money, big boats and pro crews for the past century. Look it up sometime!

Michael K wrote...The America's Cup was an amateur event for 100 years... Anyway, the America's Cup has become a spending contest for billionaires and the crews are all professional.

Tibore said...

Oh, to answer the question posed by the linked blogger:

"... Or does Barbaro-mania suggest that any of them could come back at any time -- it just takes the right star?"

That's been Indycar's (and prior to reunification: the IRL's) operating presumption since Danica Patrick entered the league. Problem is, she hasn't really boosted ratings all that much on her own, even though she's managed to get some buzz among people who don't normally pay attention to racing.

I also think there was some hope that Helio Castroneves would get the same sort of bump from his time on Dancing With The Stars, but that doesn't appear to have materialized.

rocketeer67 said...

My wife and I traveled to Kentucky recently and really enjoyed Keeneland, which they say is nicer than Churchill Downs 364 days of the year.

I say this as a native Louisvillian who enjoys the Derby for the most part: Keeneland is nicer than Churchill Downs 365 days a year, 366 in leap years. And the gap has only widened since they screwed up the "architecture" at Churchill Downs over the last decade by adding ugly overbearing suites that dwarf and diminish the beatiful old grandtand.

Old Navy said...

Come on, Michael K - The America's Cup has been all about big money, pro designers, and big boats for over a century, now. Crews, it is true, have been largely "amateurs" since the J-boats of the 30's, but even they were drilled relentlessly and missed being "pro's" only by not being paid as pro's.

BarryD said...

Boxing is a victim of its own success, athletically speaking. Too many big-time prize fights just go on and on, then the final bell rings, the fighters walk off, and the judges tally up the score.

The sheer athleticism of the participants has required the sport to be restricted to the point of being boring to watch for all but the most knowledgeable fan. It takes marginal fans to make real money.

Horse racing has been in decline, in the national consciousness, since the advent of television. I used to live walking distance from a track, and for the marginal fan, that $2 bet makes it FAR more interesting to watch. That's what makes a horse race. On TV, it's just horses running around -- objectively impressive, but not emotionally gripping like at the track, with money on the line.

Open wheel racing suffered from its own internal conflicts, and from NASCAR's superior marketing machine.

Steve Koch said...

One of the reasons that MMA is fascinating because it is so complex. The striking of MMA is far more interesting because you can strike with foot, knee, shoulder, elbow, forearm (I think), and fist. At all times during striking, you have to defend against being taken down or submitted.

When the fighters are horizontal on the ground, for example, they can strike, wrestle, or do submissions.

At all times, the fighting can switch instantly from one fighting discipline to another (from wrestling to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for example).

MMA requires a tremendous amount of training to master the various martial arts and requires heady fighters to figure out the optimal realtime strategy to deploy.

Here is an interesting MMA clip to watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58-at8xMCg

Trooper York said...

Boxing is a victim of changing demographics. As is horse racing.

Boxing has always been the way up for the striving immigrants and the people at the bottom of the social/economic ladder. That is why at the turn of the Last Century they were Irishman like Jim Corbett and Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. Then the Italians and the Jews had their turns in the twenties and thirties all the way up to the fifties. Rocky Macarino, Jake La Motta and all the rest. All along there was a strong strain of black participation with the likes of Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and the great Mohamend Ali. But now in boxing as in most sports the talent has turned to Latino's. Not that there is anything wrong with that but they typically fight at the lighter weights. The Heavyweight division is what gets all the juice and if it is in the doldrums boxing is not at the top of anyone's list. The decline of the casinos as a venue for big time fights have also contributed to the demise of boxing.

But there is one ultimate overriding reason for the decline of boxing. The Mafia is not in charge of it anymore.

Trooper York said...

Horse racing is even worse. I remember when I was a kid there was a bookie on every other corner that would take you action on the horses. You would go to the candy store and get the Night Owl edition of the Daily News to get the racing schedule and the horse for the next day. My uncles and the older guys in the neighborhood would debate and argue about their picks. All of the longshoremen were big horseplayers. I mean they were two dollar bettors but they bet almost every day.

Then OTB came along and drove the independant bookies out of business. And like most things government touches it fucked it up big time. OTB just closed this year because it went bankrupt. How the hell can you go bankrupt catering to the vices of the public?

Well over taxing and over regulating. They destroyed the horseplaying culture and the market place has moved on. Millions upon millions of dollars could have pumped into the sport. New fans could have been made every day. But it is pretty much a dead issue.

Trooper York said...

When I had season tickets to boxing it was the best time I ever had as a season ticket holder. They would have a card once a month and all the "real" boxing fans in the city would be there. The thing about boxers is they have a lot of humility. They know they can kick your ass so they have nothing to prove. But you could be in line waiting for a hot dog and standing behind Lou Duva or Mark Breland or Riddick Bowe or Angelo Dundee. They would talk to you about the bouts on the card and the up and coming fighters that the Garden was showcasing. The Garden was bringing along a bunch of fighters to become headliners to go to the big arena after they had developed a following in the Felt Forum. Guys like Glenwood "The Real Beast" Brown, Terance Ali, Buddy Mcgirt and Pernall "Sweet Pea" Withaker all headlined a card at one time or another. You really got the inside scoop if you were a fight fan.

Trooper York said...

The other funny thing about the Felt Forum was that it was like a comedy club. Did you ever have to go to a comedy club because one of your friends or your friend's friend was trying to become a comedian? They had to sell a certain amount of tickets with a two drink minimum if they wanted to get on stage. So you were stuck listening to a bunch of douchenozzles who weren't as funny as you are with a few drinks in ya?

Well the fights were like that. They would get an ethnic fighter and sell a bunch of tickets to his neighborhood. The Domicans from Washington Heights, the Jamaicans from Flatbush, Puerto Ricans from Hunts point. Hell even the Irish from the other side who lived in Sunnyside would come out for Seamus Machonagh. So whoever sold the most tickets got to headline and more often than not was guarrantied a win. They would put them in with a tomato can and the crowd would go wild.

The only problem was when there was a grudge match. You see the tomato can was usually a guy with a lot of experiance who was taking a dive for the payday. I mean he would have a record of like 82-97 and would know every trick in the book. So if he got his balls twisted it could be a real fight. Then all bets were off.

And the fights would go on in the stands. I have been at a lot of sporting events where there big time fights. Yankees vs Red Sox. Giants vs Eagles. But nothing, I mean nothing compared to when a Dominican guy fought a Puerto Rican. That happened one night and it was the worst fights I ever saw in my life. My buddy and I grabbed folding chairs and stood with our backs to wall holding them out in front of us like were in freaking "Game of Thrones" or something. It was crazy. They had to call out the ESU as the regular cops weren't enought to contain. A whole bunch of guys got hurt or stabbed that night. And not just in the arena but out on 34th St and on the trains. It was some crazy shit.

traditionalguy said...

In boxing it is forbidden to hold the other boxer down and beat him in face and the head. In MMA all they do is shoot a takedown and hold the guy down and beat him in the face and head. Only good amateur wrestlers need apply at MMA.

AllenS said...

The worse aspect about boxing, is all of the clinching. In MMA when they clinch somebody get body slammed to the mat. More brutal. Brutality good.

ricpic said...

I just went to quicktixx and there are about 15 seats available for the Yanks-Bosox game this Sunday at $30. Not the best seats in the house but still you can get in to see a high profile major league rivalry at an affordable price.

Trooper York said...

A real fighter who knows all the tricks can fuck you up big time without resorting to this MMA nonsense.

One of the best tricks is to get in a clinch and hold the back of you opponents head. Then you take your glove and rub the laces in his eyes or a small cut he has over his eye or something. You can get him to bleed like Chuck Wepner.

The goal is to cut him up around the eyes so he can't see then you have a huge advantage.

Trooper York said...

Then of course there is the low blow. Usually they will let you get away with three of them in a bout. So do it early on and tax the stanima of your opponent.

Andrew Golota made a career out of that move.

AllenS said...

Another good boxing move, is the biting off of someone's ear.

Trooper York said...

Stub hub is the only way to go these days. The regular guy can't afford to buy a season ticket anymore. At least to the Yankees or the Knicks. The Giants have stayed kinda reasonable but the seat license fee has been devastating to many people who had tickets for decades and had to give them up when they moved to the new staduim.

Trooper York said...

Biting doesn't happen all that often. That was just Tyson.

The more common move was the thumb in the eye or the nostril to rip it open and freak 'em out.

LarsPorsena said...

"The worse aspect about boxing, is all of the clinching. In MMA when they clinch somebody get body slammed to the mat. More brutal. Brutality good."

Me like MMA mo' better too.

ricpic said...

I'm not down, Ray. I'm not down. I'm still standing.

Trooper York said...

The most common and devastating and perfectly legal move is to clinch and then rabbit punch sideways to the kidneys. It doesn't look like much on TV but that is what has ended more fights and more careers than almost any other move. You can get the guy so tender and worried that he drops his hands to protect that area and he is open to a head shot.

Trooper York said...

Boxing is a science. You can see two welterweights who know how to fight dance around the ring and give a great show. Setting up combinations and using foot work to dominate the other fighter.

Most uninformed fans just like to see a knockout. That's why the ponderous Heavyweights have always been the most popular division.

Trooper York said...

If you have never actually hit the heavy bag you don't know how hard it is to keep your hands up and slugging away. It is really tough. Then imagine somebody hitting you back.

Trooper York said...

If you like boxing and ever want to talk about it with people who know you should hit Jimmy's Corner
in Times Square. Talk to Jimmy Glenn who is a trainer and look at some of the photo's he has on the wall. It is old time real deal New York. What Times Square used to be like.

Trooper York said...

On the other hand, I have never understood auto racing.

You might as well set up bleachers on the Long Island Expressway.

Trooper York said...

I mean if all you want to see is crashes. Just sayn'

Trooper York said...

I guess NASCAR is a Southern thing that doesn't translate like grits and Rascal Flatts.

Michael K said...

Michael K - you must be thinking of another Ameerica's Cup if you thought it was something other than big money, big boats and pro crews for the past century. Look it up sometime!

I don't have to look it up. I have been winning high level amateur races for 40 years. There was a ban on professionals until the past 25 years. Even Dennis Conner was technically an amateur until, recently. You just don't know what you are talking about.

There were professionals in the very old days of the 140 footers but they were limited and could not steer after 1900. The revival of the Cup after World War II was totally amateur.

I had a "skipper" otherwise known as "BN" to deliver my boat and to maintain it. He would bring it back from Hawaii and Mexico, trips I couldn't afford to take the time for.

It is an amateur sport for 90% of the participants but professionals are increasing in such events as the round the world races and the AC. I used to know lots of guys who crewed in the AC in the amateur days. I know some of the pros.

Trooper York said...

Hey imagine if they had an America's Cup for Twat racing.

Let's see who would you bet on?

Nene Leakes.
Joan Rivers.
Sarah Jessica Parker.
Hillary Clinton.
Sarah Palin.
Rosie O'Donnell.
Oprah.

Triangle Man said...

Then imagine somebody hitting you back.

I always liked boxing...except the getting hit part.

Trooper York said...

It ain't a lot of fun. That's why you have to be in unbelievable shape. Or a blob like Oscar Bonavena or Butterbean and just have some much flab you can adsorb some shots. Some guys can just take a punch to the noggin and keep on going. That's rare. But some guys made a career out of it. Roberto Duran was known as "Manos de Piedra" but his real secret was that he was "Cabeza de Piedra."

Steve Koch said...

One interesting thing about American MMA fighters is the number of white fighters and college educated fighters. MMA fighters tend to be much smarter and better educated than boxers. It is not unusual to see an MMA fighter as a coach for another fighter.

It is true that wrestling is a critical skill but taking another fighter down to the ground is not trivial. Most MMA fighters are well versed in sprawling to avoid takedowns. There is also a risk of getting kneed in the head as you go in for the takedown.

Even if you take down your opponent, it is not trivial to get into position to ground and pound. The more aggressive you are in attempting to get into optimal ground and pound position, the more vulnerable you are to being submitted or losing your dominant position. OTOH, if you just lay and pray, then most likely the ref will stand you up.

Almost always an elite MMA fighter will easily defeat an elite boxer who weighs the same. Boxing is a subset of MMA but MMA also contains wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, kick boxing, submissions (a wide variety of chokes and compression and joint locks that can terminate a fight), striking with the elbows and knees, etc.

MMA is just a much higher tech, more sophisticated, more deadly way to fight. When you train to fight as a cop, you don't study boxing, you study MMA.

Roux said...

My Grandmother was from Louisville Kentucky and we always tried to watch the Derby together. I usually make myself a Mint Julip and watch as I remember her. I didn't have any mint or Kentucky bourbon on Saturday so I had to settle for a shot of Jack Daniels Honey. Sorry Nana, I know it's sacrilegious to drink Tennessee whiskey on that day and I promise I'll make a Mint Julip and drink it in your honor. I miss you but I know you are watching.

Trooper York said...

MMA enthusiasts are very loyal to their sport. I never saw the appeal but to each his own.

The wrestling aspects of it turn me off. It reminds me of when Inoki fought Mohamed Ali. It just doesn’t work for me but if you love then you should enjoy it be all means

Steve Koch said...

MMA is killing boxing. Young people way prefer MMA to boxing.

The lighter weight classes are much more interesting in MMA than boxing because the little guys in MMA are much more likely to knock somebody out or submit them than the little boxers are to knock somebody out.

From an aficionado perspective, MMA is much richer in capabilities, more sophisticated, more complex, more strategic than boxing. There is much, much more technology to master in MMA than boxing so it is more interesting from a strategic and analytic perspective.

Steve Koch said...

My guess is that anybody who really loves and understands the sweet science will also appreciate MMA if they give it a chance.

Trooper York said...

That may be so Steve. I will give it another chance. But I am afraid I am old school. I like the sweet science.

Trooper York said...

Besides, I have pretty much given up on spectator sports. I have turned my attention to Reality TV.

Jose_K said...

Overfocus on womens's sports thanks to Title IX "equality". ?
have you ever seen female volleyball, not to mention beach voleyball? In europe is huge
Or Chastaing taking out her shirt after winning the soccer world cup ? The USA is among the top three of the sport
Of softball, Team USA was unbeaten for 170 games
And Rose Miller was as good as his brother
Danika patrick, overvalued for sure but better than Wie in her sport

Jose_K said...

Boxing was the way out of poverty when baseball or football were closed to afroamaricans. With less poverty and owning NBA where you are balck or european, and with agood share of MLB and NFL why take boxing as a way out? Anyway after Leonard , Hearns, Duran Hagler retired there were no one to fill the void.
Horse racing, nothing could match Affirmed-Alydar. The last Tripple Crown. The heroes are the horses or thejockeys, not the owners.There were glimpses like spetacular Bid or the battle of sexes of 1980 with the mare hit in the face to rob her of the tc.

travis said...

The argument that “MMA fighters tend to be much smarter and better educated than boxers” is news to me. Seems as if MMA homers like to pimp unquantifiable claims, no matter how dubious these assertions may be.

It may very well be the case that more MMA fighters have gone to college, and thus they may be considered “better educated” (but only if you believe “education” only comes from college). Boxers are at a disadvantage in this regard; while MMA fighters can hone their skills in NCAA wrestling, boxers don’t have any such opportunity to practice their art with the support of colleges.

But you’re mistaken to equate “smarts” with “education.” There are plenty of educated idiots, and graduating from a state-sponsored diploma mill doesn’t make you smart. For example, I’ll take the smarts of someone like Joe Frazier – who never graduated high school, yet basically raised himself after the age of 15 by working odd jobs to support his training – over some 22 year-old newly minted college graduate whose life has been relatively easy.

The boxing examples of those who are “smart” but not “educated” are many and include Oscar de la Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, Larry Holmes. Not to mention two boxers whose “smarts and education” exceed that of any MMA fighters: Wladimir and Vitaly Klitschko.

Almost always an elite MMA fighter will easily defeat an elite boxer who weighs the same.

This is misleading. They might have a better chance at defeating a boxer with MMA rules, but so what? What do you expect? Boxers don’t train to roll around on the ground. Two of the biggest fights between MMA fighters and boxers have been Tim Sylvia vs. Ray Mercer, and Randy Couture vs. James Toney. The results have been split – and that involves boxers going to fight MMA. A boxer always has a fighting chance with MMA rules; an MMA fighter doesn’t have much of a chance in a boxing ring.

MMA is just a much higher tech, more sophisticated, more deadly way to fight.

BS. Boxing requires much more time spent in the amateur ranks before professional success is achieved (see Guillermo Rigondeaux or Kelly Pavlik or Floyd Mayweather). The feints and traps and the setting up of combinations makes it much more sophisticated as well. Boxing is chess and MMA is checkers.

I think it's important to repeat: Boxing produces more great fights.

Big Mike said...

Outside of dedicated track fans, how many have ever even heard of the Penn Relays?

I agree with E.M. Davis -- the Kentucky Derby is still important (at least on our block, where some former Kentuckians throw a Derby Party) and the split between CART and the Indy Racing League took luster off the Indianapolis 500 that will be very slow to come back.

The present generation of boxers lacks charisma. Not that I'd say that to the face of any of them, even the flyweights.

Trooper York said...

I think it is fair to say that other sports have the people who in years gone by would have been boxers. They play football or wrestle or do MMA. Boxing is too hard for most of them and they don't want to pay the price. It's that simple.

Trooper York said...

That's why the Tyson story was compelling. Cus D'Amato knew what he had early on and when he kept Tyson on a tight leash he was a champ. But the same old story...when he got out in the bright lights and broads and the leeches got their claws in him he was washed up in a couple of years.

Nothing new.

Trooper York said...

You couldn't do what D'Amato did now a days. Child Protective services or whatever would be all over your ass.

travis said...

Adding to the Tyson story, it was only after Cus died that Tyson started to implode. The strict discipline he needed wasn't there, and Tyson's personal life and training regiment (as displayed in the Buster Douglas fight) just fell apart.

I think you're right, Trooper - those that would have gone into boxing have picked other sports instead. I'm thinking guys would have been great heavyweight fighters have gone into football. Some of these guys are so large and so athletic that it's hard to image that they wouldn't of been great heavyweights.

E.M. Davis said...

I'd like to name racehorses for a living. That would fun.

Like "Restless Syntax" or "Warmonger" or "Yoda's Silver Voodoo"