NBC Made The Right Call In Regards To Eight Belles

Monday, May 05, 2008


A good number of people chimed in after the Derby in regards to Eight Belles and I wanted to share my thoughts in this spot. Overall, I thought NBC's coverage of the Derby was pretty good throughout the afternoon. Sure the Billy Bush stuff was a little dumb, and just like I did with FOX I question their use of the word "star", but overall I thought the network's coverage balanced both the fun of the Derby and the coverage of the race itself. Sadly, everything today boils down to how NBC handled the death of the second place finisher Eight Belles.

The question that everyone seems to be asking today is whether the horse's collapse and subsequent death should have been televised and covered more closely. NY Times' writer Richard Sandomir even went so far as to say that NBC wasn't prepared to cover the death and was scrambling to get anything to air. Having only eight cameras solely focused on specific horses (none on Eight Belles) might have aided in that line of thinking, but in the end I think we're all better off. According to NBC Producer Sam Flood's interview with USA Today the horse was "writhing" and the injury was "gruesome". If things were happening they way Flood described them then there's not a chance I would have ever wanted to see that. The reality is that families and children watch the Derby with regularity (I grew up watching it every year) and NBC made the correct call. I thought the varying emotions of those in the winner's circle and the reporting on Eight Belles provided enough of a story.

When death is involved, whether it be animal or human, I think we're all better off just getting reports from the people on-site rather than seeing the images on the screen. Of course that's just one man's opinion, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 10:46 AM

22 Comments:

cant believe people are asking that question

ive always wondered how the media would handle a modern day budd dwyer, personally i think they would cream themselves

Mike Georger said...
May 5, 2008, 11:39:00 AM  

We will probably get the proper coverage and backstory of Eight Belles during the Preakness coverage in two weeks. It's a sad story that doesn't happen often during races of this caliber, but other than knowing the cause of the injury I didn't want to see it writhing in pain.

I keep hearing in the media that people are taking it so lightly that a 2nd place competitor was euthanized directly after the sports biggest race and comparing it to a human injury. A horse with a devastating injury like that has no chance of surviving. Barbaro only broke one ankle, Eight Belles broke both front ankles. If the horse can't stand, it will suffer and die not too long after. There's nothing you can argue about that decision.

I've been watching horse racing for at least 15 years and gone local tracks and the Belmont many times. I think NBC handled it as best they could while trying to promote Big Brown so everyone would tune in to the Preakness/Belmont.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 11:49:00 AM  

Slightly O/T, but NBC's ratings were down from 9.8 to 9.5.

ssreporters said...
May 5, 2008, 11:51:00 AM  

Well said Anon.

May 5, 2008, 12:02:00 PM  

I agree 100% with NBC's decision to not show the injury. I actually left the room after I saw the quick shot of her on the ground because I knew what was up. Having been tramautized as a kid watching Go For Wand breakdown at the 1990 Breeders Cup (followed by SI running graphic, graphic photos) I think that stuff is best left unseen.

Sadly, groups like PETA are already grabbing headlines and this is bad for a sport I love. Having grown up in the shadow of Belmont, I have a different view I guess because these horsemen (trainers, jocks, owners, etc) love the horses. If you saw her trainer crying Saturday night, you would have to know they didn't purposely try to run her into the ground.

I think it's interesting that it hasn't been noted (except on a horse racing site I think) that a horse has not died during the Debry in at least 4 decades. But the Barbaro thing overshadows everything.

Sean O said...
May 5, 2008, 12:29:00 PM  

somewhere, an owner of a chinese restaurant is smiling

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 12:43:00 PM  

I definitely am glad they did not show it. If there is a statement to be made from this about the ethical issues of horse racing, it would not have been well served by graphically showing a horse with a bone sticking out of its leg in HD. The story is already heart wrenching enough and we can move beyond the PETA vs. Dont touch horse racing debate and on to a more rational dialogue without seeing a dying horse and its compound fractures. Every time I read about this story its sadder.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 12:58:00 PM  

It's ridiculous for NBC to have not have had footage of the injury. It's the biggest story of the race--the one everyone's talking about today--and NBC completely ignored it. The broadcasters aren't supposed to be champions of a sport. They are supposed to cover it. And NBC shirked its responsibility on Saturday. It's been 21 years since Lawrence Taylor broke Joey T's leg. That's two decades that we've been desensitized to this kind of stuff. How can a broadcaster feel good about completely ignoring the biggest story in the race?

NBC Sports Blows said...
May 5, 2008, 1:05:00 PM  

Tirico and VP just had a PETA spokesperson, and for the first time ever, I applaud Tirico for refusing to let the woman pontificate until she answered his pointed questions. She got pwned bigtime.

Bruce said...
May 5, 2008, 1:41:00 PM  

just had a PETA spokesperson on their show...

*note to self: proofread beforee posting*

Bruce said...
May 5, 2008, 1:43:00 PM  

I was about 100 yards on the backside of the track. I agree with the producer on NBC. Until you actually see what was happening, you can't make the decision whether it was the correct call. Would you show a soldier in Iraq withering in pain before his death? NO. I have been around horse racing since 1981 and this was the worst breakdown I have ever seen. It literally made my stomach upset. Secondly, if you have never been to a horse race and if you don't understand the breed, then stop making comments. I would be the first in line to ban the sport if I thought it was unethical and cruel. These horses are loved and pampered by their owners & trainers. What these horses do is natural instinct. Have you ever seen a horse in a pasture run like hell pounding on the ground just because it wanted to?....Obviously not, if your one of the people thinking that racing should be banned. Be informed and get involved before you jump to a conclusion about something you know nothing about.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 3:22:00 PM  

When someone or something is dying live, you probably shouldn't air it. It doesn't seem like too tough of a decision to me.

GMoney said...
May 5, 2008, 4:06:00 PM  

why doesnt everyone get all up in arms the rest of the racing season when these horse are being beaten into shape by these money grubbing trainers and owners? it sucks that a horse had to die, but this happens ALL the time at tracks across the country. It just happened to be on the biggest stage.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 6:10:00 PM  

ESPN is surely beating the footage to death (no pun intended). I've seen that footage on Sportcenter about 5 times, which is 5 times more than I wanted.

Steve said...
May 5, 2008, 6:21:00 PM  

I think Gregg Doyel said it best.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 7:35:00 PM  

cock. balls.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 7:48:00 PM  

I saw brief coverage, and I have been around horses and races all of my life... with modern technology I would hope they could come up with something to prevent the kind of pain this poor horse went through. As an animal lover I hate to see this kind of thing happen, but I understand it. Kudos to NBC for not playing on the pain of this poor animal and her "family". Eight Belles RIP - you were truly loved in your short life.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 9:51:00 PM  

get over it. damn. this was a horse. i havent heard this much crying since i tried to shave my taint.

Anonymous said...
May 5, 2008, 9:57:00 PM  

It comments like Anon 3:22 which are the most ridiculous. Was she really comparing the death of a horse to the death of a human? Look, it's simple. NBC should have aired footage of it. I agree with nbcsports blows. The fact they ignored the biggest news of the weekend speaks to how they run their broadcast network. Is this foreshadowing to how they will cover the Olympics in China? I actually miss ESPN.

Anonymous said...
May 6, 2008, 9:00:00 AM  

not to nitpick, but im pretty sure the biggest story of the past week has been a storm that killed 22k people, not a dead horse

Mike Georger said...
May 6, 2008, 11:07:00 AM  

@ mike georger...you're on a sports media site, smart ass.

Anonymous said...
May 6, 2008, 11:35:00 AM  

Fuck this shit....ooh, the poor animal died.
So what?
I had horse steak last night.
Any of you go to the slaughterhouse?

Idiots care about that horse because he was famous. Period.
if that horse was slow it would have been either glue or some nice stew by now and no one would have cared.

Its like the dipshits who cry when they see cats or dogs killed. In asia, theyre food. In India, your burger is a god.

Then again, a bunch of rich white folks and degenerate gamblers sitting around wathcing animals run isnt a sport. You might as well watch poker.

Anonymous said...
May 7, 2008, 11:11:00 PM  

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