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  • 05/03/2012, 10:18AM ET

The least skilled sportsmen in sport are...

MagicSpecs (4-9-2) vs BuckyBadger. (16-5-4)
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flat horseracing jockeys.



I hope that somebody can set me straight here because as I see it jockeys basically sit there while the horse runs. I'm interested to know if I'm being massively ignorant.

If horse A is faster than horse B then surely horse A wins as long as the jockey can hold on?

If I'm driving a Porsche and Danica Patrick is driving a 3-wheeled Skoda then I'm going to win the race, no matter that she's a faster driver than me.



Jockeys need to be light. That is not a skill.

Jockeys can not fall off. This is a skill, however it is a skill so untaxing that spoilt little rich girls can safely learn it when Daddy buys them their first pony.

Jockeys have to whip the horse when they want it to go faster. This is not a skill - you're trying to win a race so you pretty much always want to go faster.



In the Middle East children used to be used as jockeys during camel racing. They have since been replaced by robots.
If a robot can do it then how difficult can it be?


I have a couple that are far easier than you suggest. Punter in the NFL or DH in the American League. Both require less training and wider range of skills then being a jockey. For this TD I am going to argue the Punter because I feel getting a hit in MLB is one of the more difficult things one can do.

Jockey's have to prime conditioned athletes. Keeping your weight down like they have to do is only half the battle and not nearly as easy as you suggest. They also have to be very strong for their size and weight so they can control the horse they are riding. Just like your car is nothing like what the NASCAR guy drives, these horses are much stronger and faster than your regular horse at the ranch.

A punter really only has one job to do. Punt the ball. Sure there is skill in getting the returner pinned deep against the sideline or getting the ball to die on the 2 but overall they only have one job to do. He isn't expected to make tackles, only as a last resort, and doesn't have to go through the same training regiment as the rest of the team.

If all the Jockey had to do was stay on the horse than women would dominate the sport and be winning the Kentucky Derby every year.


A few moments of research lead me to the conclusion that female jockeys seem to have quite a history of horseracing success:

According to Wikipedia some dame by the name of Julie Krone had 3704 career wins as a jockey, with numerous successes in 'major' races including a win in a Breeders' Cup race in 2003.

This year in the Aintree Grand National (a course which has a reputation as the ultimate test of horse and jockey) the horse that finished 3rd was ridden by Katie Walsh (.

Without wishing to set off the politically-correct police, I think few would argue that women are as strong as men (of the same size and weight).

So, so far from your arguments it would seem that the skill of jockeys is that they have to keep their weight down (which is harder and more skillful than I think), and that they have to remain relatively strong for their weight - so strong that women actively compete with (and beat) them.




For some reason I've just reminded myself of races I've seen where a rider falls off. The horse (when not injured) often continues running, and will catch and pass the leaders. That thought seems to make the jockeys a bit obsolete all of a sudden.


There are women jockeys but we all know some women who are built with a lot of strength, even the petites. If strength to control the horse had no factor women would dominate the sport because their frames are lighter. Since it is a very small percentage, even smaller as you go up to major races, this tells us that it takes a very rare women athlete to pull this off. The fact remains barely any other even compete in the Triple Crown races and the % as a whole is very small tells us strength is a big part of what they do.

These are also other skills to being a jockey. You have to know that horse. When to let him loose, when to strike him and when to hold him back. Does he like the rail or can he get around the outside? You act like these guys just jump on any horse and it is all the same. They trained tirelessly everyday, much more then your average punter.

A punter on a football team one of two positions they don't even keep a backup, if he gets hurt they will sub him with a another player. Shows that in a bind they can do without it. The number that get drafted is low so their skills are not in high demand and it is widely known you can get guys off the street to do it.


So here is how you ride a winner.

1) Be light.
2) Sit on the fastest horse.
3) When the gates open, hold on.
4) Give the horse a bit of a whipping to make it look like you're contributing.



No corners. No rails. No tactics, 'knowing the horse', or changes of speed required.

The most skillful thing a jockey can do is find a ride on the fastest horse.



There is undoubtedly skill (and value) in effective punting. Good punting combines technique and accuracy, both skillful attributes.

The ideal punt will gain the maximum field position whilst eliminating the possibility of a return. Skillful punts combine hang-time, direction and strength to allow the gunner to either make an immediate tackle, force a fair catch, or down the ball.

Along with power (for gaining maximum yardage), finesse is also required when punting to the goal line. The control required to avoid a touchback is a delicate and tricky art.

It takes skill for the punter to repeatedly deliver good punts using a situational combination of power, accuracy and finesse. More skill than is required to sit on a fast horse.


If a jockey was as you suggest we wouldn't see certain jockeys rise to the top of their craft. It would be totally random. Facts are these guys are graded out in ways both of us don't really know. People who follow this sport know about everything on those tracks and they can tell how the trainers want to run the horses by the jockeys that are on them. Is it a big time guy or some runt? If it was as you suggest it wouldn't matter to those who bet on the sport and train them but in fact it is the exact opposite. Borel isn't one of the best because it takes no skill.

Also maintaining the strength to ride these animals while keeping weight is a huge challenge, like making weight for boxing and wrestling. You have to maintain your strength and make a weight that is probably 20lbs less then you fit person's walking around weight.

Punting is a skill but a very specialized one. Don't need to stay in shape, just maintain flexibility below the waist. You want to take a team on an iron man competition or even a full court basketball game give me the jockeys. They will dominate any team of punters. You don't have to be an athlete to punt, to ride one of those beasts you do.

May 3, 2012  10:20 AM ET

Rolling the dice with the spammers and zombies...

This is just for fun.

Comment #2 has been removed
May 3, 2012  10:26 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Soccer players!

I wondered how long that would take...!

Kudos to you, sir, for exceeding even my expectations.

Comment #4 has been removed
May 3, 2012  10:48 AM ET

Can we take a position or does it have to include all the guys in the sport?

May 3, 2012  10:56 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Can we take a position or does it have to include all the guys in the sport?

Whatever you like. It's a free-for-all.

May 3, 2012  11:19 AM ET

How about the guy yielding the curling broom who does the sweeping in front of the curling stone?

That's pretty unskilled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling

May 3, 2012  11:30 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

How about the guy yielding the curling broom who does the sweeping in front of the curling stone?That's pretty unskilled.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling

Now you tell me. I should have explored some the Olympic sports.

The two middle guys on the 4 team bobsled is another one. What do they do other then push a little at first and jump in?

May 3, 2012  11:34 AM ET

How about an auto race driver? At least the jockey has to stay on the horse, the drivers are strapped in and do what I do every day while commuting.

May 3, 2012  11:38 AM ET

Great choice by Bucky. Good thing you didn't go with DH. Hitting a 98mph fastball or a nose to toes curve is a LOT harder than some people seem to think it is.

The way left dismisses jockey's I have to wonder if he's ever been on a horse, any horse, running at full speed. He also fails to recognize that horses are animals. Unlike a race car, which is pretty predictable, Horses tend to do the unexpected at the most inopportune times. Even well trained horses get spooked by the dumbest things. And the race car driver is wearing a helmet, neck harness, seat belt, etc. The Jockey has NOTHING to protect himself from getting run over by 1200lb animals if he/she is thrown off.

May 3, 2012  11:39 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

Now you tell me. I should have explored some the Olympic sports. The two middle guys on the 4 team bobsled is another one. What do they do other then push a little at first and jump in?

Haha, the two middle guys in the bobsleigh... great shout. Makes me want to watch 'Cool Runnings'...

May 3, 2012  11:39 AM ET

Since most pro jockeys are under 5ft tall, keeping weight off isn't as hard as right's making it out to be.

May 3, 2012  11:40 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

How about an auto race driver? At least the jockey has to stay on the horse, the drivers are strapped in and do what I do every day while commuting.

You drive around in circles at two hundred miles per hour for hours on end in an uncomfortable stripped down car to get to work?

May 3, 2012  11:41 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

How about the guy yielding the curling broom who does the sweeping in front of the curling stone?That's pretty unskilled.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling

I believe (although I'm not 100% sure) that they take turns with the 'curling' and the sweeping. Except if you're the captain - I think they just stand there and shout at them telling them whether to sweep or scratch or whatever...

May 3, 2012  11:43 AM ET

If you don't know how much work a jockey does in a horse race then you shouldn't speak on the subject. A horse doesn't win by running, a horse wins by running at the correct speeds during different portions of the race, and in the correct lanes, and with the correct timing to go full out at then end....and every step of that is 100% controlled by the jockey.

May 3, 2012  11:44 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Great choice by Bucky. Good thing you didn't go with DH. Hitting a 98mph fastball or a nose to toes curve is a LOT harder than some people seem to think it is. The way left dismisses jockey's I have to wonder if he's ever been on a horse, any horse, running at full speed. He also fails to recognize that horses are animals. Unlike a race car, which is pretty predictable, Horses tend to do the unexpected at the most inopportune times. Even well trained horses get spooked by the dumbest things. And the race car driver is wearing a helmet, neck harness, seat belt, etc. The Jockey has NOTHING to protect himself from getting run over by 1200lb animals if he/she is thrown off.

I agree with the DHing not being easy - IMO it takes plenty of skill to try hit a baseball at that speed. If batting were that easy then I don't think a .300 hitter would be that admired.

I've not been on a horse at top speed I admit - I was kind of hoping that this TD would help me understand where the skill (and how much skill) is required, and how much difference it might make between having a poor/fair/good/excellent jockey on similar horses.

May 3, 2012  11:44 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

I believe (although I'm not 100% sure) that they take turns with the 'curling' and the sweeping. Except if you're the captain - I think they just stand there and shout at them telling them whether to sweep or scratch or whatever...

Again, you're clueless. Some curler's are skilled at placement, while others are skilled at accuracy to knock out the other team's rock. And the captain is the captain of the team, not a guy that stands and screams. You should really stop typing on this thread because you don't have clue one what you're talking about.

May 3, 2012  11:45 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

How about an auto race driver? At least the jockey has to stay on the horse, the drivers are strapped in and do what I do every day while commuting.

One of the most ignorant statements I've ever read.

May 3, 2012  11:49 AM ET
QUOTE(#15):

If you don't know how much work a jockey does in a horse race then you shouldn't speak on the subject. A horse doesn't win by running, a horse wins by running at the correct speeds during different portions of the race, and in the correct lanes, and with the correct timing to go full out at then end....and every step of that is 100% controlled by the jockey.

I'm asking on the subject, and hoping to be educated.

From what I can tell there are some pretty short horseraces. Like - 2 furlongs short. I think I could guess the correct speed (as fast as possible) and the correct 'lane' (straight to the finish) required...

 
May 3, 2012  11:50 AM ET
QUOTE(#18):

One of the most ignorant statements I've ever read.

You must be new to Fn then, WELCOME!!! 8^D

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