The 60 Minutes brand on CBS television expanded into the sports world last year with the creation of “60 Minutes Sports,” a new series on Showtime. One of the show's first subjects was Doug O'Neill, trainer of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another.
60 Minutes also has an ongoing relationship with the popular culture, fashion, and current events magazine Vanity Fair. This month, 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair published a monthly poll that questioned Americans about their opinions and attitudes toward the sporting world. Horse racing came up in that poll, but not in a way we would like.
Among the questions asked were “which sports have the most cheating?”
Horse racing, sadly, came up in second place, among 18 percent of respondents. The only sport that had a worse perception was boxing, which was named by 21 percent of the people sampled by the pollsters.
Football was listed at 16 percent, baseball at 14 percent and cycling 13 percent. Track and field was far back at 3 percent, with 14 saying “none” or “don't know.”
It's not clear whether “cheating” in the eyes of the Americans questioned in this poll was defined as doping horses to win or holding horses to lose in a fixed race. The latter always seemed more popular in the movies and television shows than in real life.
No matter how it's defined, however, this is a race where a first- or second-place finish is not good.
What surprised me is the relatively low percentage of perceived cheating in track and field, a sport that not long ago was rife with doping scandals. Creation of the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2000 and more stringent and effective out-of-competition testing since then has apparently cleaned up that game, as reflected in the poll. It would be interesting to see whether track and field would have polled higher six years ago when Marion Jones was forced to return her five Olympic medals from the 2000 Summer Games after she was exposed as a cheater.
On the plus side, only 4 percent of those polled said horse racing “has the most jerks.” Football came out on top in that category, with 25 percent of the respondents saying the sport has the worst behavior of its participants (and that was before Sunday's Seattle-San Francisco playoff game and the emergence of the now-famous Richard Sherman post-game interview).
I've never heard anyone say a horse is a “jerk.”
Click here to read the entire poll.
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