To Vote Or Not To Vote? Sportswriters & Awards

When the Eclipse Award winners were announced a couple of weeks ago, the response to the honorees was largely muted; 2013 was not a year in which the performances on the racetrack were likely to give rise to any controversy, and there was no polarizing Zenyatta/Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta/Blame debate for Horse of the Year.

What little outcry there was focused on the voting process itself: calls for fans to be more involved in the voting; questions about who is eligible to vote; and outrage over those given votes who do not use them.

Eclipse Awards are decided by three voting blocs: the Daily Racing Form; the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, whose bloc comprises racing secretaries and some full-time Equibase chart callers; and members of the National Association of Turf Writers and Broadcasters. Membership in the latter is accompanied by a vote.

Racing fans take particular umbrage when they learn not all allocated votes were cast. Neither the DRF nor the NTRA makes its votes public, so anyone in those blocs who decides not to vote (or forgets to) is cloaked in anonymity. The NTWAB (of which I am a member and on whose board I sit) publishes the votes of all of its members.

I heard often this year that being eligible to vote is a privilege, and that those who choose not to cast ballots should have that privilege revoked. I disagree, emphatically.

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