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Jockeys Wearing Ads Reined In at the Derby
A federal judge in Louisville, Ky., who is weighing the case
of five jockeys suing for the right to wear advertising on their
turtlenecks and breeches during Saturday’s Kentucky Derby should take
into account this important sartorial evidence:
Jerry Bailey and the other jockeys are not stripping to their pants
and having corporate names and logos painted in henna (a temporary type
of tattooing) on their backs, as boxers recently have, mostly for the
online casino, GoldenPalace.com.
Horse racing is not the Hades of sports, as boxing is. But the desire
of jockeys to be riding billboards, even in a tasteful fashion, may
portend a future when professional players in the major team sports wear
such ads. Tennis players and golfers do it. So do bowlers.
The Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays wore helmet and sleeve
patches when they opened the season in Tokyo, raising anew the specter
that Major League Baseball might import the idea for the regular season
here at home.
It’s all about money and the perhaps rightful contention that if
stadium and arena walls can be plastered with ads, why can’t athletes?
In their lawsuit filed Friday in United States District Court in
Louisville, the jockeys argued that the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority
is violating their constitutional rights by enforcing a rule that
prevents jockeys from wearing "advertising, promotional and cartoon
symbols or wording" that the state agency deems is "not in keeping with
the traditions of the turf."
The jockeys also noted that covering the horses in blankets
emblazoned with the name of Visa, the title sponsor of the Triple Crown
races, somehow does not violate those traditions.
It appears to be a mushy, if arbitrary, standard, perhaps less
definable even than indecency. J. Bruce Miller, the racing authority’s
lawyer, defended the rule as necessary to maintain integrity at the
state’s tracks. "If an onshore casino advertises on a jockey, will it be
a question of betting on betthesports.com or Pat Day?" he said by
telephone after a hearing yesterday on the jockey’s case. "But I had a
difficult time getting a judge to understand the magnitude of that.
We’re concerned with who’ll advertise. It could be condoms, which could
impeach the integrity of the sport."
Miller also argued that the advertising could impede the stewards’
ability to see who won a race or if a jockey did something improper.
"He said the whip might blend in with the letters on the jockeys’
pants," Ronald Sheffer, the jockeys’ lawyer, said by telephone while
sounding amazed at the logic. "And the judge asked: ‘What about the
silks? They’re all different colors."
entire article at:
New York Times
2004 Online Casino News Archive