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NJSEA\'s Robinson draws parallels between pro sport, racing

February 04, 2009

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The first general session of the 2009 Racing Congress got underway on Wednesday morning in Las Vegas, and presentations included a pep talk about getting through tough times, a prediction that horse racing will be a marginal sport in five years, and a comparison of the organization of professional sports such as the NBA and NFL and horse racing by Dennis Robinson, CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Robinson discussed the league offices that run such professional sports operations as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, which have powers ranging from setting schedules to enforcing rules. He also noted that very wealthy people with huge egos agree to cede power to those offices when they buy a sports franchise. “These people cede significant power to a centralized office,’ he said. “That’s the price of admission.”

Robinson drew parallels between horse racing and professional sports, and took it one step further: keeping a sport’s stars in the spotlight for the greater good of the sport. When top horses are retired from racing simply to enter the breeding shed, it takes stars off the track.”

Dr. Lyle Sussman, chairman of the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship at the University of Louisville, gave an energizing presentation at using tough circumstances as a motivator for positive change.  The gist of Sussman’s presentation? It’s all about attitude.

“A casualty and a victim are not the same thing,” he told the gathering of about 150 racing participants, urging them to use tough times as an opportunity to “look at your business from a totally clean slate.”

While the Racing Congress was underway, other groups, such as the US Trotting Association, The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Association, also held meetings.

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