We Are Our Own Worst Enemies
Why would anyone bother to get involved with greyhound racing?? Why would someone who is brand new to the sport possibly want to become a long-term participant with the terrible attitudes and opinions of those most familiar with it?
The logical thing that any potential greyhound enthusiast is going to do is investigate how things work in our industry. Whether it is someone looking to own a dog, begin a training career or even breed a litter, it is only natural to ask those already involved about the costs and rewards, and whether the venture will be as fulfilling as they hope.
But when listening to on-track conversations or scanning the limited media and information outlets available – both in print and online – it seems far too easy to find what is wrong with greyhound racing, and incredibly difficult to come across anything encouraging.
Nominations are down, litter numbers are down, prizemoney is inadequate, the calendar needs re-shuffling, the grading system is unfair, stewards are biased and inconsistent, governing bodies are misguided and inefficient – the list goes on and on. It all adds up to the impression that greyhound racing is dead, gone, not worth rescuing.
While there is no doubt that many of the issues raised are full of merit, there seems to be plenty of people who are happy to find problems, and not many who are happy to give thanks for those areas that are not broken.
The bottom line is that every single person within the industry is responsible for the health of the sport. We are all part of the marketing team and all part of the image that is created for the general public. There is a notable lack of positive word of mouth amongst our ranks and in the end it will all come back to haunt us.
Imagine the flow-on effect if at every meeting, one single steward, breeder, owner, handler and administrator all pulled their weight in spreading the greyhound gospel. Some curiosity and interest would no doubt generate. People will want to jump on the bandwagon created and this may cause track attendances and turnover to increase, participation levels may rise, litter numbers may increase, as too will race nominations and wow, maybe even the efficiency and productivity of those at the boardroom level may respond to the bubbling pool beneath. All that opposed to those same people becoming amongst the raft of nay-sayers, telling the world their hardships and hence killing any chance the sport has to grow and shooting each others' livelihoods in the foot.
Just envision the first thing mentioned on every racing forum was the $800 bargain pup which won the Dapto Classic, the success Archie Thompson is now having with his first racer, or the anticipation of seeing Miata head towards a staying career. These are the things which help make the industry an appealing product. It is also the kind of P.R that is so desperately required and yet, so readily ignored.
Does mentioning the blackout at the Ballarat Cup meeting help promote greyhound racing in Ballarat area? Does pointing out the decline and struggles in the breeding industry encourage people to rush out and get into breeding? It's a logic that just doesn't sink in with some.
It is totally understandable that not everyone is going to be content with the status quo at all times. As mentioned, there is nothing wrong with trying to improve things. But please let us remember the old adage of ‘find solutions – not problems' when voicing such concerns.
Greyhound racing is a wonderful thing. I know it, you know it and the rest of the world should know it. Whether it be a pastime, a passion or a profession, we all should appreciate what current exists. Stopping to smell the roses should the norm in a sport that needs a morale boost. There are highs and lows in this game that cannot be found elsewhere. The combination of such an amazing animal with the combative nature of getting to the post first – there is something special in that mix.
The ‘love of the game' is being taken for granted on a widespread basis and it needs to be changed. Let's not wreck our future by telling the world how miserable the present apparently is.