FEB. 5 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
In this world of runaway social media and manufactured hysteria, it was no surprise that some enterprising jokester was able to convince Midwesterners that a two-foot snowstorm was headed our way the early part of this week.
On Facebook, a map showing dramatic projected snow totals circulated, causing weather people to work overtime to debunk the rumors.
It’s no surprise that it caught on. In general, we can’t wait to prematurely panic whenever a weather guru hints of a “system that we’ll be watching.”
It turned out that, as I wrote this Monday afternoon, outlets were forecasting 1-3 inches between Highway 20 and Highway 30, and less than an inch north of Highway 20.
No big deal.
With “sky is falling” predictions, I am usually able to take the advice Corporal Max Klinger once offered on the old “M*A*S*H” TV series: “Things don’t happen until they do.”
With another news report that surfaced last week, however, I fell right into the trap.
Since 2010, there has been a push to eliminate greyhound racing in the state of Iowa.
Current law says the Mystique in Dubuque and Bluffs Run in Council Bluffs casinos must run greyhound racing in order to be able to operate slot machines and other forms of gambling.
The casino operators say they lose millions on the greyhounds. So they want to see the law changed. Up to now, the livelihood of those who breed and race greyhounds has been the only roadblock to the casinos’ wishes.
So last week, a newspaper reported that the greyhound people are agreeing to a “soft landing” deal that will enable the greyhound folks to move on without going broke, and enable the casinos to get their wish and end the racing, soon enough so that Dubuque wouldn’t even race this year.
It turns out to be bunk. In my mild state of panic, I took a trip to Dubuque over the weekend to play some simulcast races and see if I could learn more. I went to someone in the know, a pari-mutuel teller who has worked at the track for each of its previous 29 live racing seasons.
She said not only were there not “ongoing negotiations,” the two sides hadn’t even communicated.
She was convinced, to my relief, that racing was safe for this year, although the long-term future of greyhound racing in the state may not be bright. All she wanted, she said, was to have the 30th season go off as scheduled, starting in late April.
Sure enough, another article reported on a “crackerbarrel” meeting in which the greyhound owners, quite contrary to negotiating to end their own jobs, were fighting to keep them.
Of course, anything is possible. If you were shoveling and snowblowing out of a 24-inch snowstorm the day this paper came out, you can call me a fool and state that the widespread pre-storm concern was justified. And if greyhound racing does get shut down this year, I’d be off on that one too.
But in both cases, I like my chances.