When “Live” maybe shouldn’t be.. by Rob Young

When “Live” maybe shouldn’t be.. by Rob Young

Simon Zahra captured on the live video.

I have to be truthful and admit up front that I’m not a fan of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and the rest all seem to me to lack the filters that characterise and control normal social intercourse. They suffer from a surfeit of information, and sometimes that information can be more revealing than the social media fans would like it to be.

Racing Victoria stewards have been asked by the Victorian Jockeys Association to make a ruling on whether the idea of live streaming post-race jockey reviews actually contravenes the rules of racing. That happened because jockeys expressed concerns, and rightly so in my view, over the live streaming of the post-race review with Craig Williams, apparently by one of the owners, after Smart Coupe missed the start and was beaten after being solidly backed in a race at Caulfield recently.

I can understand the owners’ disappointment at their horse getting beaten, especially after a mishap at the start. I can understand that people tend to “talk through their kick” in those circumstances. I can understand that syndicators like First Light Racing who control the filly need to get information out to the marketplace. All that is well and good, but there are other things to consider.

The primary concern for me comes down to a very simple question. Did Craig Williams realise that he was live on the net? Did the character who live streamed the review tell him that was happening? Or was this simply another example of social media stuff that happens  “because I can”? If Williams wasn’t told he was being live streamed, he should have been. He should have been given the opportunity to agree or disagree to being put on public display. That’s simply common courtesy. Problem is that there’s not much common courtesy associated with much of the use of social media. Just ask Facebook about their apparent lack of a social conscience regarding Facebook content if you doubt that point.

There are other concerns.

The mounting yard after a race can be a place where tempers flare. Things are sometimes said in the heat of the moment that may well be regretted after some rational analysis of the circumstances happens. I’m sure that Simon Zahra, Smart Coupe’s trainer, would have preferred not to be seen by 42,000 plus viewers dropping the F-bomb and rolling his eyes. It just wasn’t a good look for a professional.

First Light Racing has said that they have spoken with Craig Williams and his manager about the video, and neither of them had a problem with the footage being shown. Well, that comment is fatuous. There’s not much point having an issue with the footage being out there after the thing has already been seen by thousands of people. First Light Racing are simply missing the point. What really happened is that First Light Racing failed to make sure that their owners followed the basic rules of courtesy. Craig Williams would understand that, as a high profile rider, he has a responsibility to the sport and a duty to promote the sport. Had he been asked, the likelihood was that he would have agreed to the live streaming. But he wasn’t, and that was wrong.

So, the stewards have some thinking to do and some questions to answer.

Is it in the interests of racing that live streaming of post-race jockey reviews is allowed?

Whose interests would it really serve?

If it is going to happen, should the riders be made aware of the filming prior to it actually happening?

If a rider knows he or she has put in a sub-standard performance, is it fair that the “bake” the trainer hands out goes viral?

Are there privacy issues caught up in all this?

Bottom line for me is simply that, as happens too often, somebody used technology without putting his or her brain into gear. Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. And in this case, it shouldn’t have happened. The output wasn’t illuminating, wasn’t dignified, didn’t put any of the participants in a particularly good light, and didn’t do a lot for the image of racing

Live streaming from the mounting yard should be banned.