I confess to not being interested in the perils of jockeyhood. It’s not that I don’t care about injured riders, just that what they do is entirely voluntary. Jockeys choose to risk life and limb for a paycheck; the horse, alas, has no such freedom. Equally true, and further debunking the jockey-racehorse-partnership myth, is that dinged up jockeys always garner press, their dead “teammates,” rarely.
And so it is that the Daily Racing Form recently (11/15/13) set out to chronicle 2013’s injured jocks, underscoring the profession’s “unforgiving” nature. The piece was typical DRF marketing fluff: Behold the jockey, our sport’s underappreciated hero. What did catch my attention, however, were the post-article comments from the mostly conditioned, often obtuse horseracing fans. A sampling:
“It really amazes me what jockeys experience on a daily basis. I cannot think of any other occupation – save those of soldiers, policemen and firemen – who risk their lives constantly.”
“Jockeys are such courageous athletes who deserve our respect and admiration for every day (morning, afternoon, and evening) that they get a leg up and risk their lives.”
“They earn the term survivor every day they ride.”
Soldiers. Policemen. Firemen. Jockeys? Courageous and deserving of respect and admiration are descriptions best reserved for people who contribute to the greater public good. Like the soldiers, policemen, and firemen. Jockeys are no more admirable than boxers and racecar drivers, and as whip-wielders, probably less so. Sometimes the racing people need to be called out on their, forgive the euphemism, nonessential matter from the horse’s digestive system.