January 19, 2018

Fair Play

Fair play was as important in the ancient world as in the modern. That’s one reason why the discovery of a new inscription in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) it is so exciting – and in some ways so unsurprising.
 
A rock carving found in the summer of 2016 near Beyşehir near Konya in central Anatolia, features a depiction of a horse and a jockey – and outlines the rules of horse racing. The inscription sets out the guidelines to make racing fair and therefore enjoyable. No one wants to watch a race where the outcome has been rigged. One of the most interesting elements is the instruction that once a horse has won one race, it is ineligible to enter another. Likewise, an owner who had one winner, could not enter another race – to give others a chance to have fun too. Nice that more than one person should have something to celebrate.
 
This wasn’t about pushing mediocrity, but a way of making sure that the rich didn’t monopolise the entertainment, by buying the best horses, hiring the best trainers and paying the best jockeys. The Jockey Club of the time, at least at Beyşehir, saw it had a useful role in civic society.

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