I was watching the George Michael Sports Machine last Sunday (as I do every Sunday night at midnight) and I noticed something very interesting.
For those of you who don't know about the Sports Machine, George Michael is a sports anchor from out of the Washington, D.C. area (not the famous British singer who used to be in the group Wham!) who hosts a 30-minute NBC sports show highlighting the day's sporting events throughout the country. It's sort of a mini-ESPN, if you will.
Last Sunday, George did a feature on Saturday's running of the Kentucky Derby and talked about the winning horse Smarty Jones, Smarty Jones' trainer and the jockey that rode the horse.
Since I'm not a big horse racing fan, I was casually paying attention to the race highlights when all of a sudden, I noticed something. The horses in these races are being whipped pretty viciously by their jockeys as they are running the race. Have you guys ever noticed that?
I guess it makes sense since the jockeys have to do something to make sure these thoroughbreds run around the track, but it seems to me that the horses don't need to be whipped that much. Not only are the jockeys whipping these horses, but they are also pulling on the reigns around the horse's neck so hard that the horse's head bobs back and forth.
Where are the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) when you really need them? Many of them are too busy dousing paint on people with fur coats, leather jackets and alligator shoes to do something truly important. In my opinion, horse racing is where those extremists need to focus their energy.
Now don't get me wrong. I am not a fan of horses at all. When I was 10, my father took my family to the Poconos, a vacation spot in New York, and we all went horseback riding. My dad and I rode this nag of a horse that stumbled and nearly fell during the whole time we were on it, scaring the hell out of me. I cried like Montel Williams, Nancy Kerrigan and Dick Vermeil combined. It was one of my worst moments.
Ever since then, I don't want to get anywhere near a horse. You ever notice how big horses are? They're huge animals that could kill you with one single kick. I also don't like the fact that they have eyes on the sides of their heads like sharks. And we all know how dangerous sharks are.
But even though I think horses are dangerous animals and aren't cool at all, I don't want to see them whipped all day just so some rich fat cats can make even more money if their horses place in the top three. To me, horse racing just doesn't seem all that right. Watch the next race closely and see what I mean.
Sure, horses are big, strong animals. I'm sure their skins are tough. Maybe their horse adrenaline doesn't allow them to feel those lashings during a race, but it looks very bad to me. That's all I'm saying.
If I had to watch animals race, I'd rather watch greyhounds run around a track. At least they're not being whipped and it's funny to see them chase a rabbit they'll never catch.
Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.