Of course I'm not suggesting that there's any logical reason that ESPN should televise Breeders Cup prep races instead of college football. Why would they? But the thing is that the empty VP suit who I quoted in the last post is the same one who said when ESPN first entered into the BC deal:
"We can promote this with the horse racing we already have, across platforms, and promote it all year round and create a presence that it's never had as the Super Bowl of thoroughbred racing." [NY Times; Oct 25, 2005]Clearly, after showing a reasonable amount of interest in the first year (though less than a maximum effort in my view at the time), ESPN has failed to live up to its word. So, I can understand why you'd say 'whatever,' but I think it's certainly fair to criticize the network even while acknowledging the business sense of its programming decisions.
And, with four more years left in the deal after this year, what's the
Also, I think that the Breeders Cup itself is partly responsible for the downgrade in coverage (and totally so of course for the decision to team with ESPN in the first place). In the initial year of Win And Yer In, the schedule was totally manageable, the format understandable, and the races had an air of importance. It was something that fans could follow and get a grip on. But now, with like 40 some-odd races (?? - I don't even know, nor care, how many there are to be honest), and with supplemental fees a deterrent to automatic qualifiers going to the big show anyway, the series is totally devoid of meaning. So who can blame ESPN for not bothering?
In any event, the Breeders Cup has big problems above and beyond the fact that its network partner has not pulled its share of the load. With the handicap division in shambles (if not virtually non-existent), the sport's biggest star (in North America, anyway) not coming (and the remaining one a creature of synthetic tracks), and, for the second year in a row (thanks to the decision to run the races at Santa Anita in consecutive years), the dirt races' legitimacy as true championship tests in question, the Breeders' Cup is in danger of becoming irrelevant in 2009 even to its own committed fans.