Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Tale of Two States

There is a pretty big rivalry between Indiana and Kentucky around these parts.  In the Evansville, IN metropolitan area, there are two decent sized Kentucky towns:  Owensboro and Henderson.  I hear plenty of jokes that find the natives of the "other" state the butts. Depending on which side of the Ohio River you are, determines on whether you hear a Kentuckian joke or a Hoosier joke.

Why did they build the bridge between Evansville and Henderson?  So Kentuckians can swim across in the shade.  Not to be outdone, the editor of the Henderson Gleaner publishes a Hoosier joke every week.  It is all in fun till someone gets hurt.

Indiana knows about injury.  In 1997, Indiana went to class basketball.  Before then, the high school basketball tournament was legendary.  All schools, big and small, played for one title.  The championship game was carried on ESPN every year and the movie Hoosiers was based on a small school that conquered the giants.  Hoosier Hysteria was known from sea to sea.  Now?  There are four classes of high school basketball, four state champions and exactly four people who actually care about Indiana high school basketball.  My friends in Kentucky were quick to jump, "I knew you hoosiers were stupid, but not THAT stupid."

Fast forward to 2009.  Kentuckians get their comeuppance. As basketball is/was to Indiana, horse racing is to Kentucky.  Because of river boat and other casinos in the area, horse race wagering has been down in the commonwealth.  The solution?  Expand the betting experience at these tracks, to include slot machines or even video poker. 

So, the governor and the legislature got to work. They aren't going to let the "Sport of Kings" die out in the bluegrass state, are they?  Yes they are.  Every measure has been defeated in the legislature by one party (guess which one).  

This isn't about gambling.  It is about history, tradition and an institution.  It is about hoosier hysteria Kentucky style.

So far the fallout has been that Ellis Park in Henderson is announcing that this is its last season after 80-some odd years as a cultural and economic staple.  Even major players like Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, are taking a hits over it.  Some major players are moving their operations to other states.  The eight horse tracks in Kentucky will be fewer.  Ellis Park is the first to announce, but probably not the last.

So, now hoosiers get their chance to laugh at the stupid Kentuckians.  However, no one on either side of the river seems to find it funny.

5 comments:

Emily Suess said...

Did you hear about the Kentuckian who swam across the Ohio to get to Indiana? He got half way across, then decided he was too tired. So he swam back.

Hoosier Girl said...

Ah...I am familiar with that rivalry. It is alive and well here in the Louisville Metro/Southern Indiana area.

I don't want people to lose their jobs. But we don't really need all those horsetracks, do we?

How are you, by the way?
J.

Meg said...

Every time we went to Kentucky for vacation Dad would have to drive along the Ohio and stop at at least one casino while us kids waited in the car. But I lived in Northern Indiana so the rivalry up there was always with Michigan.

Random Magus said...

Hey how you doing. I am not from the US so cant comment on the post but wanted to ask how you were doing

Rita said...

Hey how was you this vacations. I am sure you had lot of enjoyment there.

had you?


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