State Of The Industry
Editorial by Kimberly Dawn
Published in Trot Magazine
Every year at Trot, we release this special issue – focused on the state of the industry – and we talk about a whole variety of things. In the past, we’ve tried to identify where we fit in the world and what outsiders see when they peer in; we’ve scoured statistics to find trends and figure out what direction we’re really going; we’ve created a harness racing report card and even imagined new structural, political and business models to take our sport to the next level.
In the end, we’re always focused on today. For years, we’ve been looking at the past and attempting to comment, in some way, on the present. We’ve considered tomorrow, we’ve considered next week, next month, and maybe even next year. But rarely do we analyze all our information and ideas in the context of the future. I mean the real future – far, far away from now, where we assume our next generation will be training, racing and breeding while we sit back and recount tales of 2009.
The trouble is that we cannot assume. We can’t stand idly by and wait for the government to allocate a new subsidy when and if the slots go bust. We cannot expect some marketing expert to jump on board and create exciting new wagering opportunities to keep our horseplayers interested. And we can no longer pass on the responsibility to the next guy for moving us forward. In harness racing, there are a number of competing interests working to profit from a shared pot. You have different wants, needs and goals than the guy standing next to you at the rail, and from the guy standing next to him. But if everyone is so busy fighting over a shared pot, no one notices how quickly that pot is shrinking.
The trouble is that we cannot assume. We can’t stand idly by and wait for the government to allocate a new subsidy when and if the slots go bust.
By struggling to satisfy individual goals today, we are minimizing the chances that we will survive until tomorrow. And I don’t know about you, but I would like to take my kids and my grandkids to the track for an afternoon at the races. So what do we do? Harness racing needs to call a time out. Stop. Pause. Halt. Whoa. Whatever term you prefer.
We need to forget about the present, just for a moment, and consider the future. The long-term, seems-so-far-away, distant future. Some of us won’t be around to witness it. Some of us will be grey and frail. But close your eyes and imagine it. What do you see?
This issue of Trot is focused on envisioning that future. It’s a little bit fact, a little bit fiction, but in short, an attempt to show the importance of looking way ahead. At the moment, all the competing interests have different views on how we’re doing right now and where we’re headed on this path. But the most concerning part is that they all have different views on where we should be going. Until we can collectively imagine an ideal world, we’ll never, ever reach it. Everyone will pass the buck until barns are shuttered, tracks are closed and harness racing is a thing of the past. It is in everyone’s best interest for us to work together. And until we do, keep those eyes closed. That vision you have, of an ideal future? It will remain that. Just a vision. But it may very well be a more pleasant sight than the reality we face.