by Al Cimaglia
July 27, 2017
There has been some talk John Campbell, the greatest driver of all time will become the savior for harness racing. As someone who finds harness racing exciting and enjoys the task of picking winners, Campbell's input is appealing.
The challenge of uniting the disjointed factions which comprise the sport is daunting. That is not to say Campbell won't make a significant difference but realistically, it will take more than one strong voice.
If Campbell takes on the challenge of "fixing" harness racing his success will hinge upon accomplishing what no one else has done to this point. That is to identify the key issues and develop a comprehensive plan to move forward. Make no mistake any effective plan to help the sport flourish will require all parties to contribute, and it will take a large amount of money to make a difference.
Race tracks will need to sacrifice profits and contribute to a marketing campaign. Horseman will have to give too, as will owners and breeders. Everyone needs to pull in the same direction with one mission in mind, to grow the fan base.
Advertising, which is basically non-existent now, must mushroom. If a national campaign is done properly it will be costly. The money should come from a collective effort by the parties who stand to benefit. Finger pointing and myopic views must be put aside.
Increasing the pool of bettors is more likely when the number of people who have experienced the sport grows. Unless harness racing can attract the critical mass to gain additional coverage on TV and with the media in general things will remain the same, at best. Most would agree the status quo is not good enough.
If young adults don't follow a sport, their offspring's will likely not be exposed. That's how a fan base dwindles, by losing generation after generation of potential followers. This is exactly what has happened with harness racing.
The proof is there for all to see as the average age of those attending races or gambling online continues to rise. Whether it's with the influence of John Campbell or not, harness racing must grow its sales funnel. If so, the future can be bright.
Next Thursday I will have some specifics on how to increase the interest in harness racing. Everything good that would follow happens because more people care.
You can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia