At least according to ESPN who is obviously partly to blame for turning the injury of a horse into a practically religious movement. As most of the world undoubtedly knows Barbaro won the Kentucku Derby a year ago but broke down in the Preakness. He was taken to New Bolton Animal Hospital where they attempted to repair his broken leg which worked for a while but the three year old ultimately succumbed to complications and died. During the course of all this people went nuts, sending cards, flowers, writing on message boards and generally acting as though Barbaro were a person.
Well ESPN, who could not restrain themselves from hyping something unnecessarily, has one of their “E-Tickets” up now in which they cast the Barbaro devotion in all the terms of mainstream Christianity which offends me in ways I am not really going to get into now. Of course it is disturbing enough ESPN is actually enabling these people by giving them exposure but the aspects of this that really bothers me can be summed up in the following statements from the article:
Somewhere along the way, she became one of them. She helped gather a collection for Richardson’s birthday. Checks and cash arrived at the flower shop, until enough had been raised for Berstler to purchase a gigantic gift basket with rounds of golf, theater tickets, food, you name it. “One girl spent a whole day just driving,” she says, “picking up everything.”
She arranged for fans to pay for pizza deliveries for the hospital staff. She helped organize the fans paying for the Christmas party at New Bolton. There were homemade cupcakes, cookies and snack food in the ICU for the doctors and nurses.
“Barbaro was in many dimensions,” she says. “He looked at the whole picture. That’s why he had that stumble at the Derby. He was ahead of the moment. The Zen of that. That’s dancing. For the rest of my life, I’ll be working to move with that innocence.”
The first time, one asked, “Who’s Barbaro?”
“He’s a great messenger,” she said. “He’s the greatest dancer I’ve seen since Baryshnikov or Nureyev.”
Sometimes, people lose their faith in the world, start to believe that the sun might not come up again. When Barbaro fought, she figured she could fight, too. She’s got a fiancé, a good man named Frank, and they’re saving for a down payment on a new home. She’s got a life. She’s got a community. All because of a horse.“The courage of him gave me courage,” Crumb says. “I could relate. Is that strange? I don’t know anymore.”
“He is a different thing to every different person,” she says. “To the person suffering from cancer, he’s hope. To the person who lost their cat when they were 12 and never got over it, he’s a way to have him back. To the athlete, he’s a hero. To the soldiers who sent their flag from Iraq, he’s a fellow soldier. He’s a different thing to everybody.
You know what else Barbaro is? He’s a horse. Actually, he’s a dead horse. Now let me be clear as a guy who spends his free time breaking down what happens with a college football and basketball team, I understand that I am little bit of the crazy kind of fan. And I also understand inspiration and what not but did I mention Barbaro was a horse? I find it wholly frightening that these people put so much effort into ascribing so many human and dare I say supernatural qualities to an animal. This is not like a person who can communicate and struggles on the same level the rest of us do. This is a horse and I am really baffled at the talk of Barbaro having courage in the face of his injury. I know horses express some level of intelligence but to sit there with a straight face and say that the manner in which Barbaro fought to live, fought his injury and was courageous is an affront to the idea of courage. I hit on this during football season when some announcer called Brady Quinn “courageous.” Kay Yow coaching NC State while in the throes of stage four cancer is courageous as is fighting in a war, running into a burning building to save a child, and overcoming numerous personal failures to become successful. I just do not think you can describe a horse as courageous. And when you start talking about the amount of money people spent sending a horse cards, letters, bags of apples and leaves it really comes out as somewhat of a waste. Why not give that money to a local homeless shelter? Instead of buying apples for Barbaro instead buy canned food to feed actual people and not some horse whose owners incredibly rich.
I think it is inherently sad that people have such a void in their life that they used a horse to try and fill it. And perhaps I am coming off a tad judgmental here in dictating how these people might seek to fill their void but I happen to think that when you start elevating a horse to sainthood it is entirely possible your perspective on reality might be a bit out of kilter. There are many things wrong in this world and any number of challenges real people face and overcome which trump a horse and his broken leg many times over. Go find inspiration in those people not an animal who may or may not have known everything that was happening to him and most certainly was incapable of understanding your letters. Barbaro is a horse, a animal and lower form of life compared to a human. He is a race horse who was put out there for the express purpose of winning his owners some money both on the track and in the stall. Anything else is pure unadulterated poppycock.
Call me cynical but this kind of stuff and ESPN’s pimping off it strikes be as bizarre and sad all at the same time.