As I say every year (well, last year anyway), I hate the Kentucky Derby. It is the most inane “major” sporting event of the entire year, and that includes several other overrated “traditions” such as the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, the Tour de France and Cubs baseball.
Last year, we discussed how OJ Simpson is a fan of horse racing and especially the Derby and also how we Americans took this tradition from the French (!). This year, I dunno, I’m at a loss for words as to why people still like this thing. It’s still a huge deal to way too many people.
“The sport of kings” isn’t actually a sport. For something to be a sport, a person should actually be doing the running, jumping, swinging, hitting, etc. involved in playing that sport. Obviously, the Kentucky Derby only involves 100 pound men riding on million-dollar animals. Nice sport. You know why it’s called “the sport of kings”? Because only kings and rich people can afford real thoroughbred horses. Plus, it’s not like a king from back in the day is going to actually play a sport. It’s much more fun to show off how cool an animal all his money can buy. Look, I watch The Masters every year because I can actually go outside and play golf. How many people watching the Derby actually own racehorses?
Which brings me to the other reason people care about the Derby: gambling. This is what always kills me about ESPN and others covering the Derby all week. They’re inadvertently showing us the real reason all of those networks and publications exist in the first place. Without them, the degenerate gamblers wouldn’t get up-to-the-second updates on their wagers, parlays, and teasers. It just so happened the average sports fan liked getting their updates without having to wait for the morning paper. I guess it means ESPN is just returning to its roots by throwing the gamblers a bone. And let’s face it, degenerate horse-gambler is way, way worse than degenerate sports gambler. This is yet another reason bloggers > mainstream media, by the way.
I hate that genteel Old South thing too. Those huge hats the women wear are just ridiculous, a post-modern recreation of Louis XVI’s court at Versailles, only without the irony. The “two Souths” could not be more evident than at this race. There’s the wealthy men in their suits and the women in pastel dresses and those stupid hats in the nice seats in the stands. But in the infield, there is what I call the “NASCAR” South: people just there to party in their motor homes, drink bourbon, and have ugly people sex. I’m not a fan of the term “redneck,” but if the belt buckle fits….
My rantings may be biased, have a touch of class warfare to them, and are maybe even downright Yankee-ish, but…well, I don’t have an answer to that. Just know this weekend, should you watch the Kentucky Derby, what you’re watching ranks somewhere below the X-Games and above professional bowling in terms of actual skill involved in competition and above The Americas Cup but below the Indianapolis 500 (and well below The Masters) in terms of worthwhile “sports” traditions.
Sure it’s an excuse for rich people to dress up and for the plebs in the infield to drink (more than usual), but that’s not what America is all about. This country was founded so that the difference between the rich and the poor wasn’t so big. So that there wouldn’t be pointless parties where effete socialites dress expensively and flaunt their wealth. Okay, that’s exactly why the country was founded, but the Kentucky Derby still sucks.