I hate to open the flood gates, but that’s kind of my job, so… Whatever. Here goes nothing.
Rodeo has been my life, my passion, my everything for the last 22 years. I’ve never spent a summer doing anything but bouncing down the highway from one saddle club, county fair, etc. to another.
In light of recent events, this love of mine has been put through the ringer because of what people think they know, think they saw, or think they heard.
To put this in perspective for those of you who can’t relate, imagine your childhood best friend being plastered across national headlines for an attempted terrorist attack. You know for an absolute, no-doubt-about-it fact that this friend of yours is not a terrorist, but is actually a red-blooded, patriotic American, and yet they are subject to slander and countless “news” articles stating otherwise.
The sport of rodeo has been the topic of ridicule for decades, but never so much as recent years. Between PETA, SHARK, and now “refutable” news sources, rodeo can’t catch a break. I guess if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
Here’s the thing… What these nay-sayers won’t tell you is that one Midwestern rodeo association hosts an “Exceptional Rodeo,” an event dedicated to children and adults with learning disabilities so they can realize their dreams of being a cowboy or cowgirl, at their finals each year.
These reporters never mention a benefit rodeo held within 50 miles of Pike County that, in only three years, has raised more than $120,000 for research of a childhood cancer, or another one just down the highway that has donated upwards of $100,000 to breast cancer studies.
Where are those headlines? Where are the photos of a wall of rodeo fans standing with their hats off, hands over their hearts, and tears in their eyes as the National Anthem plays and the Flag passes by?
They aren’t out there.
As a man once told me, “If it bleeds, it reads.” This statement has never rang truer than recently.
As a “cold-blooded reporter” myself, I understand better than anyone how a publications numbers go up when tragedy is the headline. People don’t want to see puppy dogs and butterflies on the front page; they want guts and gore.
Don’t believe me? The next time there’s a wreck in town or a kid goes missing, watch the Bowling Green Times Facebook page. I guarantee you we get 10 new “Likes”.
Excuse my ramblings. My point is this: As Americans, we need to stand by America.
Few sports, in my biased opinion, are more American, Red, White, and Blue, than rodeo. Each event, no matter where you go across this fair country, begins with the National Anthem and a prayer. Veterans are honored and applauded for their service and sacrifice. School teachers are given standing ovations.
The next time you feel a tug at your heartstrings when you see a photo of a “bucking bull electrocuted by a cattle prod at ____ rodeo,” take a step back.
First off, that jargon is enough hint that Mr. or Miss Reporter doesn’t know what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks they’re talking about. Cattle prod? Electrocuted? Doesn’t electrocution end in death? Weird…
Also on that note, follow in the footsteps of any rodeo livestock contractor before and after the rodeo event (of your choice) and try to tell me that the man eats, drinks, or sleeps before his animals do. You’d be a liar if you tried.
America is the land of the free, sure, but I don’t remember common sense being an option. I don’t remember the Constitution adding “the dumb” to our land of’s.
Stand by your farmers, ranchers, veterans, school teachers, and whoever else you consider to be a true American. At this rate, they may be our only hope.