Why I’m boycotting the punting slaughterhouse
Tom Waterhouse has driven me to this.
The scion of the Waterhouse racing family appearing far too often on my television to declare that while he possessed no actual talent he would happily part me with my money was – as they say – the last straw.
Watching the Wallabies get smashed by the Kiwis in the World Cup was hard enough without watching Waterhouse continually pop up on my screen asking for cash like some transient beggar.
Fascinating also that while he had mum Gai on the ad, dad Robbie was nowhere to be seen. Why would that be?
So this year, for the first time since I was about 10 years old, I will not be betting on the Melbourne Cup. In the era of the mass protest, this is my micro protest. I feel confident the TAB will survive without my $50 contribution but nonetheless it will make me feel a little better.
It pains me to take this step. By no means am I a punter. In fact horse racing bores me rigid, but the Melbourne Cup is something else again.
There is something about it that is quintessentially Australian. It involves a long lunch, quite a few beers and cheering like mad for some dumb animal. It’s a day that brings the country together for a common purpose, even if it is to get pissed and bunk off from work.
My first memory of the Cup was as a recently arrived 10 year-old immigrant from Scotland. There I was sitting in my classroom when the teacher stopped everything and switched on the radio and we all listened to the Cup. I was completely flummoxed but hooked.
But this year I must withdraw myself from the field.
It feels like we are standing in a deluge of betting with no umbrella. It is forced down our throats, forced up our bums and any other orifice you care to contemplate. It feels like time to take a stand, no matter how futile.
Betting ads have infiltrated our football games, our cricket games. Rugby league appears to be more interested in betting than sport. Then we have sports betting websites, the TAB, Sportsbet, Centrebet, Betfair. Enough already.
Then there is Clubs Australia and its campaign against pokie laws. Here’s a tip. Anybody that uses the term “It’s un-Australian” has no moral or intellectual argument of any note. It’s a term popular with the truly stupid.
Part of this rant is provoked by a concern that betting on sport is likely to corrupt the sport in some fashion. Betting scandals in horse racing have always been part of the scene. Now they have spread to AFL, league and cricket. Match fixing in soccer cannot be ruled out as well.
But most of it stems from just being increasingly sick of being implored by various types to part with my hard earned while just trying to watch a decent game of footy.
Perhaps I am just a prude. Perhaps I am a boring fart, maybe even a wowser. So be it. This year I will watch the Cup as always. But only as a disinterested spectator. It will be an unusual experience.
Maybe next year I won’t be quite so grumpy. Hopefully Waterhouse will have gone out of business and I can have another punt.
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