What a Sight: The Kentucky Derby

One of the topics we discussed and seemed to be somewhat present throughout the spring was the social status of the people and what sports they played, watched, or enjoyed. For example, football and basketball could be  associated more with lower class. On the other hand there is sports like baseball and golf that are expensive in certain areas. This is all debatable but the one event and sport I would argue that is solely upper class is horse racing especially every year on the first Saturday of May at the Kentucky Derby. Today the running of the 140th Kentucky Derby took place at the historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky where California Chrome captured the first place finish.

So what makes this sport and particularly the Kentucky Derby more attractive to the upper class? Well first off the horses themselves are extremely expensive. Take today’s winner California Chrome for instance. According to USA Today he cost $10,000 which is cheaper than most of the horses. Since horse racing has so much to do with the genetics of the horse and breeding it is not uncommon to have breeding fees that get into the millions! All of the money is invested in creating a winner and then the owners of the horses have to make sure the horses are pampered until they are able to run and compete on the big stage.

As for the event itself it is a status thing plain and simple. Celebrities and millionaires are always in attendance. I was curious as to what the cost of a ticket was to attend the Derby and it said you can buy a General Admission ticket for only $56 which is not bad, but it does not guarantee you a place to sit. As for the cost of some other sections and amenities of the event I found these numbers: Parking pass $146, Barnstable/Brown Party $1,310, Seat at a table on Millionaire’s Row $3,342 (kind of ironic that it is called Millionaire’s Row, proves my point) with the most expensive ticket being at the Clubhouse Box near the finish line for $11,592. All a little pricey if you ask me especially when you consider the race lasts about a minute, but it is all about the experience and being able to say you went. There is another aspect of the Kentucky Derby that is well known and a little bit of a competition, the hats. Mainly the women but some men do to have the biggest most outrageous hats. The bigger and more flamboyant the better.

Now by no means am I knocking the upper class or belittling the Kentucky Derby. It is actually a fantastic event and I find myself watching it each year. It is one of the great events that takes place in the United States. Maybe I am just a little bit jealous because I will never get to wear a big hat, or watch on Millionaire’s Row. For the people that do get to go enjoy and remember you are amongst the elite.

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42: More Than a Number

Exactly one week ago today as well as every other year on April 15th Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. Every player on all 30 Major League teams wore the number 42 on their back. This is the only time during the season players are allowed to wear this number. A couple years ago the MLB agreed that Jackie Robinson’s number would be retired by every team due to his immense impact on the game of baseball. By donning the number 42 on their back each player remembers and recognizes the impact Robinson had on today’s game.

Jackie Robinson is regarded as one of the most important and influential athletes of all time. He was the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues and essentially broke the color barrier. Before moving to Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Dodger signed Robinson and he played his entire carrier with them. With Robinson’s emergence the civil rights movement significantly changed as well as the dynamic of Professional Baseball. His bravery and efforts not only opened the door for African Americans but Hispanic, and Latin American baseball players as well. Although the number of African Americans has fallen from 17.25% in 1959 to 8.05% in 2012 (USA Today). On the other hand Major League Baseball’s Opening Day rosters were comprised of a little more than 28% in 2013 (Latino Fox News). These statistics provide more of a tangible result to show the effect Robinson had on the game.

Another positive argument that can be made for Jackie Robinson’s influence on the game is the advancement that these African American, Hispanic, Asian and Latin Americans are having in baseball today. Here’s a couple examples of some of these players having success: Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run today. Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (highest batting average, most home runs, and most runs batted in), Ichiro Suzuki is has ther most hits of all time (combining his hits from the Japanese Professional League and MLB) and the top two all time home run hitters are Barry Bonds (765) and Hank Aaron (755) who are both African American. So what does that say about the talent in the baseball world? To me it means anyone can play no matter the color of their skin or where they come from.

That’s what Jackie Robinson wanted to convey to everyone and prove himself and to the rest of the African American community. Jackie Robinson was bigger than the game of baseball and 42 is more than a number.

 

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Baseball Season Opens Up Down Under

As spring begins to come upon us so does the marathon of a season that is Major League Baseball. Many days spent at the ballpark, eating hot dogs, and playing catch before the big game. Baseball truly is the American past time. However, before all of that takes place on American soil the Aussies will get a taste of what baseball season is like right in their own backyard. That’s right, this year the Opening Series of the Major League Baseball season is set to take place in Sydney, Australia between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. They are scheduled to play a short two game series before heading back to the States to continue the rest of the season just like every other Major League team.

One thing that should be noted is that this is not the first time the opening series has been played in a country other than the United States. In the past teams have played in Japan, but the reason Australia is an interesting location is the lack of baseball support from the fans. See in Japan they already have an established league that is just below the MLB in terms of competition level. In Australia there is no professional league for players, only an Australian national team who competes sporadically throughout the year. This is one of the reasons Major League Baseball has decided to use Australia as a way to spread baseball.

It is interesting how they use this as not only a means of expanding the market, but with that comes a plethora of revenue. All though all of this costs a significant amount there is tons of profit to be made from the ticket sales, merchandise, food, and all of the other expenses that come with a day at the ballpark. One thing people seem to forget about is that Major League Baseball is a business and the more opportunity you have for your customers to purchase things the better success you will have. 

Aside from the money that is involved with the Opening Series there is another interesting aspect that most people probably do not know or are over looked. This series is being played at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds, but the grounds were transformed to be a regulation size field. As we have read and discussed in class the history of sports and how the sport is taken by the culture says a lot about how it is played. Baseball and cricket are very similar sports. I would consider this to be like how soccer was changed to rugby in certain countries. I feel like this Opening Series is a way of combining two different sports coming together, it adds an extra dimension of excitement to the game.

Now its time to sit back, open up your sunflower seeds, and put another shrimp on the barby because baseball season is about to be in full swing starting Down Under. It truly is the greatest time of the year.

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