Kentucky Derby Takes Center Stage
Why We Still Watch After 135 Years
Originally Aired: Thursday, April 30, 2009. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
This weekend is a big one in sports. The NBA and NHL playoffs are heating up, baseball is in full swing, and Cornell lax hosts Hobart. But this Saturday is also the first in May, which means the Kentucky Derby is back. Horse racing is no longer anywhere near being one of Americaís most popular sports. Ratings are way down from where they were in1975. But ratings have risen throughout this decade, with over 14 million people watching last year, up from under 9 million in 2000. In the modern age of talk radio, ESPN, and the internet, the Kentucky Derby still resonates with a significant portion of Americans.
Itís easy to see why. Iím not old-fashioned, I know nothing about horse racing, and Iíve never sipped a mint julep, but Iíll be watching Saturday. Of course, gambling is a huge reason for horse racingís popularity. But Americans have so many other sporting events they could gamble on, so since we keep gambling on the Derby, there must be something else that makes it fascinating. In an age in which sporting events take longer and longer but we all have less and less time, the Derby takes less than two minutes. Since the horses are all different each year, weíre never familiar with them, but to see these horses going at such speeds for two minutes is captivating. If the race took much longer, only a few grannies and little girls who dream of owning horses would watch. But since the race costs us almost no time, weíll tune in.