A Sports Column Goes to the Hogs
When I requested the Journal to launch a gimmick known as “Go Away, Jason”—soliciting thoughts from subscribers for sporting occasions to send your preferred sports activities idiot to this October—I had no concept what the response would be. But extra than 2,000 thoughts have been submitted, leading me to finish the plain: you’re all nuts. I’ll admit I fantasized about turning this into a racket: wonderful world-extensive sports activities adventures which I ought to invoice to the corporate account. Perhaps my bosses could green mild a week of bullfighting in Spain. Or Formula One racing within the labyrinthine streets of Monaco. Antarctic golf. Cliff-diving in Acapulco. A Philadelphia Flyers hockey sport.
Instead, I am at pig races. And I love each minute of it. It’s the final Sunday of the Georgia State Fair, held every year in a stretch of flat land adjacent to the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It’s hotter than a Camaro’s hood out right here, and all I’ve needed to devour is a tray of deep-fried Oreos. At first, I assumed deep-fried Oreos were the finest issue I’ve ever tasted. Twenty mins later, I want to curve up beneath a tree and die.
But it’s OK because now the pigs will race, and pig racing is my new preferred recreation. Some historical past: the Georgia State Fair pig races had been cautioned by using a Journal reader named Kemp Dolliver, who noticed the pig races a gaggle of years in the past at the North Carolina State Fair and cherished it. He scanned the net for upcoming pig races, and that is what he located.
“Good easy amusing,” Kemp told me. “The pigs don’t have contracts, agents, or off-season drama.” My bosses had been up for it. Send the pampered city slicker sports activities columnist off to the pig races? What’s not to love? (Plus, my editor, Jim—who no longer mind a day at a horse tune—became intrigued via the wagering opportunities.)
So now I am right here, trackside. The pigs, however, are jogging overdue. The prior act—a trio of daredevils referred to as The Nerveless Nocks—have completed their habitual, which protected spinning around on something called the Wheel of Destiny as a sound system cranked Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” But the pigs are nowhere to be determined. Perhaps they may be hungover. Maybe they’re retaining out. “WHERE ARE THE PIGS?” a boy in front of me shouts. Jacob Fish is his call, and I suppose Jacob will be President of the US, someday, because, inside a minute, Jacob has some dozen people chanting within the hot sun:
Suddenly, a speaker crackles, and the famous First Call bugle music performs—you already know, the music they play earlier than a horse race. Crystal Coronas seems. Twenty-9 years antique, she’s our emcee, a fifth technology member of the Coronas of Hollywood circus own family, which runs those country truthful pig races—together with the Nerveless Nocks, a nearby Big Top, camel rides, and the Smallest Horse and Giant Tortoise exhibition I became too scared to observe.
“Let me give an explanation for to all and sundry what’s about to appear out on our track,” Coronas says with gusto. “You’re about to look THREE RACES. Now the primary race—you’re going to peer our first 4 Hollywood stars. Our 2d race will be our handiest two OBSTACLE RACING pigs. And our 1/3 race—the main event—is WINNER-TAKE-ALL. We’ll have six racing pigs on the SAME TIME.”
“Now, earlier than we race, I’m going to remember to three,” Coronas says. “And after I count to a few, I need you, men, to yell, SOO-IEEE! Because while you yell SOO-IEEE, my pigs know it’s time to race.” And this, my dear buddies, marks the primary time your Journal sports columnist has ever yelled “SOO-IEEE.” (What do you need from me? I grew up sheltered in the suburbs. I had Atari and a monotonous house cat.) Finally, it’s time for racing. The pigs have pun-tastic names: Britney Spare Ribs, Kim Kardashian-ham, Harry Porker, Sponge-hog Pork Pants, you get the concept. They’re adorable 6-month-old, some of them noticed. They’re the form of pigs you need to snuggle. They don’t seem like racers.
But they’re racers. Pigs can fly, as it seems. The track isn’t always a lot—a unmarried loop, more or less the duration of the aisle on a passenger jet. Each race is over in a flash. The pigs rip through the direction within the time it takes to light a cigarette. There are not any collisions, injuries, or, unluckily, NASCAR-style fights in the pits. How does pig racing price as a wearing event? Well, it’s speedy. Your youngsters received’t nod off like they do in the course of 9 p.M. Baseball video games. I’ve seen lots less thrilling NFL contests. My playing-obsessed editor Jim, meanwhile, desires to know if the pig’s race on a wet or a dry track (it’s dry), if the pigs take Lasix (what?), and if there is a Daily Racing Form for pig racing (come on). (I do no longer suppose it’s for a smart idea to wager on pig racing. I don’t think this could stop Jim.)
Afterward, I communicate to Coronas. She tells me it may take everywhere, from multiple days to a few weeks, to teach a racing pig. They teach them with treats—finish the direction, get a deal with. How hard are they to train? “It relies upon at the pig,” she says remember-of-factly. “Sometimes, they pick out it up proper away. In other instances, they’re not intended to do it.”
Who’s been having a terrific season?
“Kim Kardashian-ham has been doing pretty precise,” Coronas says. “A little higher than expected.”
Any accidents? Does each person ever pull a…?
“We used to make this joke,” she says.
Pig racing is the domain of younger pigs—by the point, they’re fully grown, Coronas says; they’re too unwieldy for the track. If your kids are wondering what takes place whilst a racing pig, um, graduates, Coronas tells me that after their racing careers are finished, the pigs aren’t eaten—however, given suitable homes.