Norman Chad is a respected sportswriter whose weekly column appears in The Washington Post, among other papers. The following ran in yesterday’s edition of the Post. Mr. Chad, we thank you.
Horse racing is dying. It should be dead. (Boy, do I hit the ground running with a sports humor column, or what?) I say this not in response to 22 horse fatalities at Santa Anita racetrack since Dec. 26, I say this because horse racing would not exist without the involuntary participation of its four-legged athletes.
They are now changing medication rules and reducing the use of the whip and examining track surfaces, but this is nothing more than shuffling deck chairs on the backstretch of a moribund industry. Besides being imperiled by other forms of gambling, horse racing should be felled by a simple, moral fact: It’s just plain wrong.
You might look out your bedroom window and disagree, but Couch Slouch would like to believe we have evolved as a culture. With our evolution comes the realization that other living beings — horses, dogs, lions, bass, even pigs — should not be used for our sport or entertainment, or, frankly, for our food.
What, you think Affirmed woke up every morning thinking, “Man, I want to kick Alydar’s butt on Saturday?” Don’t tell me these horses are bred to run; they are forced to run. They have no choice, like when my mother used to tell me to finish my chickpeas. (This happened as recently as two years ago.)
As a 9- or 10-year-old, I used to take my right foot and smash anthills I saw along the sidewalk; I am truly embarrassed by this. As a 39- or 40-year-old, I used to go to the racetrack and gamble on the ponies; I am truly embarrassed by this. And, now, as a 59- or 60-year-old — I’ve lost count of the birthdays — I finally know that animals deserve better treatment than as our play toys or prey targets.
So, please, no more sled dogs or show dogs. No more greyhounds or horses racing. No more cockfighting or dogfighting. No more elephants at the circus or orcas at SeaWorld. No more hunting and fishing. I’m not even sure we should lazily ride horseback on a country trail. Would you want to carry someone on your back for a half-hour? I’m a big Lone Ranger fan, but he should Uber to his next crime scene.