Tuesday, January 24

Italy's Horseracing Sector - Off course by a length?

This, too, was once an Ippodromo Race Course

While the world has been buzzing over the sinking of the Concordia, while those of us in Italy are experiencing the rolling strikes of taxi drivers, now pharmacists, then truckers, lawyers and gas stations in protest of the government's austerity package, there's been one group on strike and seemingly getting nowhere fast: the horse racing industry.  But this poster doesn't just reveal what's wrong with the horse race sector of Italy, it's a poster advertising what's wrong with almost the entire country's approach to each and every sector: 

First, let's ignore (if you can, without scratching your head in a WTF moment) the idea that an empty field - the late great Circus Maximus - was once a race course track.  Once again, resorting to "our glory days" - and here, evoking the Greatness of Roma: Caput Mundi.  Too bad we have to go back to centuries before our own calendar even started for show-and-tell.  I get it:  let's not abandon our race tracks and leave them in ruins.  
But, showing me a popular tourist attraction - no longer in use - and attracting more people than the modern-day race tracks -- in my opinion isn't the best way to go about doing this.

Where are the race tracks?  Family days at the races?  Competitions like the Kentucky Derby?  Name that foal?  Go to the wiki on Horse Racing, and under Italy you find only a mention of the Palio, a race held twice a year and lasting only 30 seconds at that.  I love the races, the San Siro stadium in Milan, but have rarely set foot inside - more often to admire the magnificent bronze horse of Leonardo gracing its entranceway out front.  Like much in Italy, unless you're in the know (or follow the cultural bloggers - who work for free) the world at large knows nothing of the exceptional cultural offerings taking place nearly every second across the boot.

Next, we have the appeal to the government to step in & save the day. Keeping 15000 horses from the butcher's block, and maintaining many a worker.  Instead of employing marketing techniques, school programs and user-friendly websites to keep things going, just throw more good money after bad.  People wait for the government to give money to make movies, the government to pay for theaters and opera houses, and a host of other cultural events.  So much of it is so ill-spent it's absolutely criminal.  The Italian people cough up money so that those on the receiving end can live high on the hog, improve their vast art collections, and do a number of things that have nothing to do with actually producing or promoting their venue.
Italian generosity also keeps these low-funded but culturally phenomenal concerns from stepping up to the plate and fundraising, sensitizing the public, building trustees, investing in their own improvements and more.  If they did these things, waiting for a handout would not be even considered an option.

Finally, we have the strikes and street protests.  Too bad it's the first time I ever saw the horses make their way into the public arena.  More of this to promote their races (okay, it might be illegal) and maybe they wouldn't need to take to the streets begging people to pay attention.  If they had just added signs, race times and cards of horse's names... maybe people would actually take the time to check them out.

But, let's go back to the Glory Days.  As I stated before in my entry on strikes,  the theory goes...because we were once great, we can lose touch with our professional prowess, ignore the potential customers, run things as if it were a private club, not allow any new blood (and here I'm thinking of the Arabs who saved Kentucky), not invest in new and better ways to do things...

After all, we were once the great Made in Italy brand.  And that should be reason enough to expect the throngs to keep coming.

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