Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dog Track Pioneer: Golden Days of Greyhound Racing are Gone Forever

Raynham Park in Massachusetts is overgrown with weeds
It's not often that I agree with one of the pioneers of the commercial greyhound racing industry. That happens to be the case today, however. In the current edition of Greyhound Review magazine, industry Hall of Fame member Paul C. Hartwell acknowledges the collapse of the dog race industry in a column titled "Those old-time Crowds."

Hartwell, who has been involved with the greyhound racing industry since the 1930's, starts his column by pointing out that the crowds are gone, and regular dog track customers have vanished:
"For most of my racing life there was a hard-core of racetrack customers that were just as regular at the track as were the employees or dogmen. They showed up every night just as if they were on a payroll. Some were touts, some were gamblers, and for some it was just the right place to be. For whatever reason they were there, they never missed a night or a race and they knew as much about the overall racing operation as anyone that was working at the track. You just don't see that anymore."
Hartwell then quotes National Greyhound Association Secretary-Treasurer Gary Guccione, who says that because voters ended greyhound racing in Massachusetts, track patrons now have to return to their "assisted living facilities" to "stare at the TV." This is certainly not a vote of confidence in dog racing.

Finally, Hartwell ends his essay by stating that even though he believes commercial greyhound racing will survive in some form, its golden days are over:
"It looks like greyhound racing came along when the country needed it, but now the attitude of the public has changed and its attention is aimed elsewhere. For this reason, even though I believe that greyhound racing, in one form or another, will be around for many years to come, I don't think any amount of  high-powered advertising is going to bring back the golden years many of us were fortunate to have experienced."
I concur with Hartwell that the attitude of the public has changed, and the glory days of greyhound racing are gone forever. I would go a step further, however, and point out that commercial greyhound racing is not only a dying industry, it is a cultural dinosaur.

The dog race industry can no longer effectively compete with other forms of entertainment, and is out of touch with mainstream values on the humane treatment of animals. It is an antiquated relic from a previous generation, and will eventually end.

1 comment:

  1. How about John E. Miles? Hoosier Kennels.