A jockey being stood down at Fairview today for religious reasons, reminds us of the good old days when Good Friday stood alongside Christmas as one of the two days of the year when racing took a complete break.
There has been a significant amount of discussion in recent times about sport and entertainment options on Good Friday – a day considered by many that practise Christian faiths,especially Catholics, to be the holiest day of the year, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
We appear to have long moved on from the days when now retired jockey Willie Uys and his followers threatened to strike and boycott plans to hold an Eastern Cape Good Friday meeting.
‘Get your eggs on’ suggests the Gold Circle website that loudly advertises tonight’s Greyville night meeting – which will probably see the restaurants packed, long tote queues and trainers, jockeys and officials working as usual.
The UK started racing on Good Friday in 2014, and they will also race today alongside Singapore and France.
Interestingly, the Australians still don’t race.
Like South Africa, Australia has moved towards opening up entertainment for people on Good Friday. This includes restaurants, bars, cinemas, festivals, and sport
In 2009, Tabcorp Australia made the decision to open for business on Good Friday for Victorian and NSW punters. Similarly, Tattsbet followed suit for its customers around Australia. Initial caution has moved to acceptance.
In South Africa, some betting outlets will be closed today, to give their overworked personnel some much needed rest.
Despite not smashing wagering records, the opportunity to bet on Good Friday has been well received by punters internationally.
While religious leaders have argued the case that further opening up Good Friday to major sporting and entertainment events would erode the cultural importance of a day that has huge historical relevance, a turning point in human history, the evidence suggests that this is happening regardless.
Whether we like it or not, we now live and operate in a largely commercial, disposable, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week world.
Worldwide, church membership is decreasing. A decline in the number of young adults that attend church services is also evident.
As long as personal choice is protected, it surely remains logical to provide entertainment on a day where many families will be at home and looking for something to do?
It certainly creates the opportunity of attracting a different demographic in a tough economic climate, where most businesses need every possible bum on every seat.
Fairview kicks off at 12h40, while the Greyville meeting starts at 18h05.