11/29/2017 10:01AM

Macedonio: Harness Racing needs a woman’s touch


Who wants to talk about the big elephant in the room? I’m talking about the one that no one actually wants to talk about . . . the one that is absolutely hindering our growth as a sport and an economically viable industry. I’m talking about women! Specifically, women who are consuming our product, not horsewomen, that’s another topic for another time.

The racetrack is not a welcoming place for a woman in 2017. Could you imagine what it would feel like if you were a single woman who just happened to walk into a racetrack by herself, with no knowledge of what is going on? She would see lots and lots of men. Mostly by themselves scanning programs, making bets and yelling at the TV screens. Yes, it might be an interesting sight because excitement is contagious, but she’s certainly not going to engage anyone.

How long do you think she would sit at the bar watching everyone? Probably not that long because she’d most likely be the only single woman there! She knows that everyone would take notice of her, constantly eyeing her. This is something that every woman can attest to, but it’s probably something most men won’t even think of thinking about. She may walk into the track and take a look, but get out of dodge fast.

Did you know that more women watch The Walking Dead than men? Sports in general have a high demographic of women viewers, but harness racing has ignored women and created an unappealing environment for women at live events. When was the last time you saw a group of women at a racetrack who weren’t influenced by men to attend that event?

It wouldn’t take much to change the culture either. Start with an all-inclusive day spa & salon. I’d be willing to bet that you could sell or rent space in the grandstand that is much cheaper than a typical strip mall. Women search out quality spas, because it’s a planned event, so the location is irrelevant, and you don’t gain too much from foot traffic. Have a women-friendly restaurant, possibly focused on wine tasting events. 

I can go on and on, but the point is that if you create a welcoming atmosphere where women feel comfortable going alone or with a group, it will give a much needed boost to the sport. Change the culture and show women that they are a true focus of your ideas. Women buy merchandise and are more loyal than men to a brand or product once they’re attached. The opportunities are there, we’re just ignoring them.