Next week, two of the great sporting events in the twilight of their American sports era will take place and most of us will never know it.Â
As the Kentucky Derby and boxing between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton get set to continue on decades worth of tradition I canâ€™t help but think what went wrong for horse racing and boxing in the American sports lexicon?
Their deep rooted problems stem from their lack of accessibility to new and potential fans. And if they donâ€™t correct their recent blunders and expand their base, Iâ€™m afraid millions of sports fans will miss out on two of the truly great sports in the world!
While most people would tend to say itâ€™s generational. My grandfather or father liked those sports 30-40 years ago and now, my generation just doesnâ€™t like it.
Iâ€™m not buying that. I think itâ€™s a cop out to a complex question. Itâ€™s not that the younger generations do not or are not capable of appreciating each respective sport or enjoying it, itâ€™s not that at all.
Itâ€™s that internally, each sport and the way itâ€™s been run has led to its own demise.Â
Now decades ago, these two sports may have been two of the most accessible to sports fans. From heading to local race tracks to watching captivating boxers on local (free) television, fans embraced the two.Â
Back then names like Ali, Liston, Clay, Baer, and a host of others were common names. Not only was their boxing captivating, mesmerizing and athletic, but their personalities drew fans even closer.Â
Horse racing was no different. Fans watched and followed their favorites rise through the ranks of their local tracks to the derbies of Kentucky. Wagering thrived, and so did attendance.Â
Fast forward about 30-60 years and youâ€™ll see a must different picture, one that neither can enjoy; but both there by there own cognizance.Â
For years boxing and horse racing enjoyed their respected fan bases, and frankly still do. But as greed, like in most business took over, they lost their ability to grow.Â
Horse racing went from being a sport wagered on, to a wagering activity that just so happened to be an athletic event. By simulcasting races from around the world to gamblers who could bet several races at one time without leaving their seat, their attendance dropped, and hasnâ€™t recovered.
Boxing's downward spiral was once again spurred by its ability to make money in avenues they had never explored. It went from live television events seen nationally, to pay per view events that while made promotors and boxers money pushed away the common fans.
Clearly each is at a crossroads in its existence. Competition has increased, characters have remained just as captivating and story lines can still be found at just about any event they may hold. The only problem is, no one is there to witness it.Â
For horse racing their corrective measure may not be simple. They have created a system in which off-track betting facilities have replaced a sport. Gone are the times of watching a horse, seeing its power and quickness across a track, and present are the days of a number. A number chosen to finish first for the purpose of making money.Â
Fans no longer head to their local tracks for entertainment. In towns across America, race tracks are dwindling and â€œOTBâ€™sâ€ are popping up like strip malls.Â
Boxing on the other hand has a greater potential for turn around, but it better act quick. With MMA and Ultimate Fighting being shown on numerous channels seemingly every day of the week, for free. itâ€™s not getting any easier.Â
While it may not make the most sense financially at the start, boxing must separate itself from its recent past and get more events accessible to the public without making them pay per view.Â
Get back to the days when you attracted viewers through cards or events that educated sports fans on the skill and athleticism this sport holds, and then when premier fights are set up, youâ€™ll have an increased pay day in advertising through overall interest. Ask the NFL how much the Super Bowl generates, on free world wide television.
The boxers: are there. Just as they have always been. Their skill: even tougher, faster and athletic than ever.Â
Each sport needs to find ways and show the ability to entice and include a wider fan base, and their investment will undoubtedly pay off.Â
It has to.
Because if they donâ€™t, their existence within American sports culture wonâ€™t last much longer.Â
What do you think? Can Boxing or Horse Racing ever rejuvenate themselves or are the destined for failure? Click Here and Share your thoughts!