I hate to be the party pooper here but, why on earth do we celebrate Melbourne Cup? Don’t get me wrong, in years gone by I was the first person at the free bar with a sweepstake in hand, but year after year I’ve started to see it for what it really is… terrible on too many levels to count.
Whilst I will probably be told I am taking this way too seriously, I’m going to break down why Melbourne Cup is probably the biggest summary of what is shit about Australia.
Please stop lining up to tell me the horses that are raced are treated like Kings and Queens- they may be by some stables, certainly not all- and that royalty treatment soon fades once the horse is no longer a money making racer. As our very own Susannah Waters wrote for the Scavenger last year, horse racing is a cruel business. Not only are they at risk of injury and death from racing, but often end up with life expectancies that are 2 or 3 years long, when in reality a healthy horse can live up to 30. That’s not even counting the ones that are beaten and drugged into performance. If that’s not awful I don’t know what is.
We have a population over just over 20million and yet we can generate $19billion a year in gambling revenue. What we have here is a situation where we basically “stop the nation” to gamble when we as a country have a massive problem. And whilst alcohol and tobacco ads have been taken from TV and billboards to help curb the social ills, every second ad during a major sporting event is now geared towards selling betting. Consider this- 500,000 Australians are problem gamblers probably being exposed to the one thing that could potentially ruin their lives and the lives of their family just by going to work, over hearing conversations and being surrounded by countless legal promotions. Take that ‘self exclusion’!
Take a look at this charming summary line: “Women are more likely to get “legless” at the Melbourne Cup than at any other sporting event.”Ambulance officers in Victoria aren’t fans of Melbourne Cup due to people over indulging. We’re a country where alcohol fuelled violence is a major discussion point for councils, MPs and social services and yet here we are all dressed to the nines getting shit faced. Businesses are even encouraged to have contingencies in place so they can cover bases after employees call in sick. Do we really need a massive excuse to get massively drunk?
Oh how proud a day when we can report that more people are abused at home on this fine celebration day. It isn’t enough we abuse animals, our wallets and our livers, we go home and we beat the snot out of our families too on Melbourne Cup day. So whilst your choosing your fascinator, what canapé you might have and reach for that 2nd glass of bubbly, please spare a thought for the children, women and men who will end up on the wrong side of someone’s fist tonight simply by being home on Cup Day. Could it be the toxic mix of viewing cruelty, too much alcohol and too much gambling comes home to roost? Gee, I wonder!
It would be so nice if whatever “stops the nation” and gets us out in droves wearing our glad rags didn’t end up making savages out of us, don’t you think?