by Trey Nosrac
“Tatum dribbles at the top of the key. Sixteen seconds remain on the clock in the third quarter. The Celtics will play for the last shot.”
My mental stopwatch is activated. I tap the mute button on my remote and rise.
I command, “Hey Google, play John Cougar Mellencamp.” When Cherry Bomb begins to play, I whistle to my dog, Franklin. He romps over, and I open the backyard screen door. Franklin does his business in the bushes near the woods and follows me into the kitchen for ear scratching and treats from the kitchen counter. Next, I turn on the kitchen faucet, squirt a dab of soap into the basin, drop a few cups and glasses into the suds and use the Brillo Pad on the ones that need a little help. Leaving them to soak, I dry my hands on a towel. Then I head out the front door to the mailbox. On my return, I toss the junk mail into the trash and the bills on the kitchen table. I check my phone messages and text Wally back that I am in for good to go for the Friday tee time.
I flop into my recliner, ask Goggle to turn off the music, and press unmute button on the remote. Like a coordinated ballet, the graphics and introductory music from the basketball game telecast fades, and the ball gets inbounded. The total time between the mute and the unmute is four minutes and one second.
We all play the game of multitasking during commercial breaks. You can accomplish many tasks and tomfoolery if you are a good player. Once, I repainted a bedroom during a playoff football game. During the first commercial break, I dragged out the furniture. During break two, I masked the window frames, break three masked the ceiling, etc. The bedroom was painted and furniture back in place late in the third quarter.
I know a guy with a big yard who cuts his lawn during commercial segments.
Viewers increasingly check their ever-present phones for texts and emails during commercial breaks and intermission of sporting events. They use the time to make a sandwich, play solitaire, wash the car, talk to their spouse or significant other, scroll through the two hundred available stations, or watch snippets of another game.
I am betting that a few of you do an odd version of the digital break dance. During a commercial break of a major sporting event, you grab your iPad and click onto your favorite harness racetrack. If a harness race is close to a race starting, you play a race during a commercial break from the big game. The suggestion is that there should be no if in the previous sentence. A race should always be waiting.
Racetracks should carefully coordinate the start time of harness races with the major sporting events.
The racetrack does not need permission or contracts. They do not need to do anything but slightly adjust the starting time to increase business. There would be no downside, and this business practice would add extra money to the wagering pools. If non-racing fans find us in the coordinated interlude, that would be wonderful.
We have a few assets in horseracing. Two of those unique assets are that a horserace only takes a few minutes, and the racetrack has wiggle room for exactly when we start our races.
This minimal adjustment in starting time would seem simple. An NBA playoff game, a World Series game, or a Stanley Cup game draws millions of eyes. Many of those eyes, perhaps even yours, search for other places for their attention during commercial breaks.
Why not have a harness race become one of those landing places.
A spotter at the track predicts the next sizeable commercial bank will begin in three minutes, at 2:46, and this is the cue for the post parade. The horses continue to warm up on the track until the next signal, precisely ten seconds after the national commercial bank begins, the race announcer or television host announces, “You have one minute to post time. One minute, get those wagers in.”
The transition should be seamless for me sitting at home, for any horse race gambler, or any newbie to the horserace gambling site that we can stir up. A commercial begins, one quick click to the racing site, the race starts in less than one minute, slip in a wager, watch the race, watch the replay, and click back to the national game just as the action resumes.
We should carefully tailor our product so that every commercial break of a big game is our window, friend, and opportunity. Four minutes to grab eyes and money. This alteration should not alienate our current audience. The exchange of a slightly altered post time for more stupid money in the pools should be a blessing.
In 2022, viewers multi-task during commercials. A quick race and a quick bet can be one of those tasks. This evening, I played two races that ACCIDENTALLY that happened to be close to approaching the start gate during commercial breaks of the national baseball telecast. I would have lost more money if ingenious personnel at the racetrack PURPOSELY had coordinated the starting gate with the commercial breaks.