Archived Story

The ‘Sport of Kings’ has seen its better days

Published 6:04am Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There was a time when certain sporting events acquired all of my attention.

NovakheadThose days are long gone.

One of those events was the Kentucky Derby. I can remember growing up and waiting all day for the race to begin.

Now I don’t even care if I catch the highlights on Sportscenter.

Horse racing used to be known as “The Sport of Kings.” Now, like boxing, it is a dying sport that only catches the national fancy when a horse wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

There in lies the rub.

There have been a couple of pretenders over the last 10 years, but a horse hasn’t won the Triple Crown since 1978 when Affirmed made it back-to-back winners.

Seattle Slew in 1977 and Secretariat in 1973 gave the sport a face and a new-found passion that it hadn’t had since the 1940s.

But those days are long gone. There are generations of sports fans who have no idea what winning a Triple Crown is like.

Heck, I am old enough to remember watching all three horses win the Triple Crown and how exciting it was.

Secretariat’s win is still one of the greatest sports stories of all-time.

I can only hope that California Chrome goes on to win the second leg at the Preakness a week from Saturday.

Then perhaps my interest will once again be peaked.

The other sport that used to draw national attention, but rarely does these days is boxing.

Perhaps that is because all of the fights have moved to pay-per-view events or are on HBO or Showtime instead of network television.

I can remember watching the likes of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman on ABC with Howard Cosell doing the commentary.

Those were the good old days. Now you have to pay and arm and a leg to watch the “sweet science” live.

Perhaps we will once again return to a day when Triple Crown winners are more common and boxing can be viewed on a regular television station for free.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at

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