My frustration has got the better of me – I can’t take it any longer.
The time has come to defend my favourite sport and the people who love it and work in it.
After watching and reading the media coverage over the last two months, I fear for both it and the ignorant views of many that tarnish it.
My sport is horse racing.
I am not a trainer and I am certainly not small enough to be a jockey, so I will have to make the admission now. I am a punter.
My father’s family are harness racing people and I was introduced to punting by my father at an early age.
My grandfather trained horses, as do many other relatives, and from before I can remember I used to travel all over NSW and Victoria to go to the trots and follow whichever family horse was on the go.
And before I lay all of the blame on the media, I must admit that it seems to be a fairly large portion of the population that I am at odds with.
My frustration really increased in March with another of my interests – rugby league.
Channel 9 got a new bookmaking sponsor.
Tom Waterhouse got the viewing public in an uproar by combining quoting his prices with comment.
Now, I must admit I have found the barrage of his advertising painful.
But I never expected the controversy it would stir up. Peter FitzSimons from the Sydney Morning Herald led the charge.
Peter objects to his children being constantly reminded of the odds during sporting events. He fears that it glamorises gambling and will lead to more children growing up to become punters.
In fact, it is more than fear. Peter says of kids being exposed to odds that “the outcome is equally devastating – a time-bomb that will go off when they have more than their lunch money to lose”.
Now Peter has every right to protect his kids from whatever evil he sees but a devastating time-bomb waiting to go off – oh please.
He goes on to breathlessly say “the point is that because of this exposure, gambling chat in the playground is now endemic, and many young Australians think that gambling is glamorous instead of the brain-dead loser pursuit it actually is.”
Thank you, Peter. I must be a brain-dead loser. Obviously my mother and father should have been reported to DOCS for exposing me to gambling at an early age.
Of course, the dull reality is that most punting winners are simply smart and hard-workers. Not all bookmakers are Mercedes-driving winning crooks. Some of them lose.
Most of them win because they approach the game with more professionalism than the average punter.
Most punters lose because they don’t do the work.
Some punters win – mostly because they approach it with the same professionalism as the bookies.
And Peter, don’t worry about your kids too much.
I am sure with the brains bred into them on their mother’s side, they will lead quality lives and won’t give away their money.
One of them might even turn out to be a clever punter – and it could have been thanks to Tom.
- Courtney Rees is a journalist with The Daily Advertiser and a punting tragic.