Following the launch last week of the Self-Appointed Fan Committee, a second fan advocacy group made its début on Friday. The motto of the Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association, also known as Thorofan, is “giving the fan a voice,” and its website provides the following mission statement:
The Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association is a non-profit, membership-based
corporation designed to foster growth of the Thoroughbred racing industry by
providing racing fans with an organization to actively support their
The goal of the Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association is to enhance fan enjoyment, increase knowledge of all aspects of Thoroughbred racing and enhance skills in handicapping. The goal of Thorofan is to cooperate with other organizations in the Thoroughbred community. We seek to retain existing fans and strive to develop new ones through education and membership benefits.
Sounds great. Interesting that it’s membership-driven, though I suppose that you can’t fault an organization for wanting to generate some revenue to advance its causes, and it’s no different that way from a number of other advocacy groups. I wondered what it meant that “the goal of Thorofan is to cooperate with other organizations in the Thoroughbred community,” and when I clicked on the “Sponsors and Contributors” link, I thought that perhaps I’d found out, as the first listed corporate contributor is the New York Racing Association.
So let me get this straight: this is a group designed to foster and support fans’ interests, and it’s financially supported by the main racing organization in the state? Is this the “cooperation with other organizations in the Thoroughbred community”?
Whether this relationship will cause conflicts of interest for the fledging group is entirely speculative at this point, and maybe Thorofan will be able to act independently of its contributors. And I’m sure that whatever NYRA is contributing is a big help to a grass-roots organization. But it just doesn’t look good to have a fans’ group supported by the very entity that makes a lot of the decisions about the fans’ enjoyment of this sport. I’d be more sanguine about Thorofan’s goals and efficacy if it were independent.
Moving through the website, I came to the newsletter section. One of the items contained therein is a letter in response to an article regarding the relaxation of the clubhouse at Saratoga this year. The letter reads in part,
“Your piece is marvelous! I had no idea they were relaxing the dress code! Don’t
most people like to get dressed up to go to a special event? Do they want people
to come dressed like they are ready for yard work? I get tired of seeing the
attire of the Wal-Mart crowd.”
Rather than detailing the ways in which I find this attitude offensive (as if they weren’t obvious), I will point out that a June 24th article of The Saratogian explains that,
While maintaining a strict dress code in the paddock and box area, men will no
longer have to wear a jacket and tie in the “At the Rail” pavilion and paddock
Dispensing with a jacket and tie doesn’t qualify in my sartorial world as “relaxed” attire, and it doesn’t appear as if shorts and tank tops—the “attire of the Wal-Mart crowd”?—will become the norm in the exclusive areas of the track any time soon. Ms. Letter Writer can relax.
Whether a “relaxed” dress code is a good or bad thing for Saratoga I will leave for others to discuss; if this is the sort of issue that Thorofan is going to take on, though, it’s advocating for fans who are unlike me. The dress code in areas of the track that I can’t afford to go in anyway wouldn’t make my top ten—maybe not even my top fifty—list issues to address.
I’m not sure who Thorofan’s audience is, but it might be easier to tell if the group provided some details on what it would like to accomplish and how it will get there. What I’ve seen so far doesn’t have me reaching into my pockets for the (admittedly reasonable) $20 membership fee.