Big Al's View Of The World
COWBOY SPORTS NEWS MAGAZINE MAY 2016
I recently had a rather lengthy conversation with a rodeo producer on the phone. We talked about this and that some of those and a lot of them. We have both been on the same side for many years about the future of rodeo and the direction it is taking to get there.
After talking to him and then after reading a Facebook post about the ERA rodeos it all started to come together. Rodeo is a sport about tradition, rodeo is a sport trying to find its place in this century and rodeo has a lot of internal conflict that is not making things any better for the future. These conflicts are from both inside and outside influences.
First the tradition part. Rodeo is one of the most traditional sports out there. NASCAR might have gotten its start from bootleggers but rodeo got its start from the wild west. There are not many world champions out there that do not look up to the past world champions and get inspiration in the way they did it years ago. They say if you don’t know where you’ve been you can’t know where you’re going. Part of that tradition is the local guy that shows up at the rodeo and schools the big boys. People go to NASCAR to see the wrecks. We go to rodeos to see if the new guy or the old guy can take down the guys in the top 15. That is just human nature. We like the conflict. It is not that we dislike the big boys we just like to see the underdog take the prize. David beat Goliath just as Caleb Smidt and Aaron Tsignigine took down the kings in their events this past year. In our minds the underdog is always supposed to win or at least have a chance to win. The fact that rodeo is the humbling sport is made more humbling come Odessa in January when they really don’t care what material your buckle is made of. Your money won or buckle status does not carry over to the next year. There are no seeded contestants. That’s what makes rodeo so underdog friendly.
Rodeo also has many internal conflicts right now. I’m not talking about the ERA vs PRCA. I’m talking about contestants, committees and producers. There is enough money to pass around. No one group should feel the need to hog the majority for themselves. I had a committeeman tell me one time that “the reason we have our fair is to provide scholarships and opportunity for the local kids and groups in our area. We don’t have our fair just so you contestants can come and take our money.” Fair enough!!! Like my article stated last month, the people sitting in the stands have no idea who the big names are. They are strictly there to watch a rodeo or in most cases a few clown acts and the calf scramble and mutton bustin. Which brings me to my next point: producers can make just as much money having a two perf rodeo with no slack than they can by having tons of contestants. Yes the more contestants they get the better the payoff, but who does that help other than the contestants. In some associations there is a big bonus at the end of the year for the number of runs you had at your rodeos, but is a bonus in October going to make up for the money you lost each weekend thru the year.
Some contestants think the committee and producer are getting rich. Committees put up $20,000 to $50,000 upfront a lot of times before they ever sell the first ticket. That is just on the rodeo. The carnival, livestock show and a concert or two can double or triple that amount quickly. Throw in some bad weather on the fair dates and you just lost your butt. Not to mention the producer has put all of his eggs in one basket. He has planned on this one rodeo taking him into the black and then to have two days of rain take all of his profit out. He could have made just as much money staying home for that weekend.
Yes, I know contestants have a lot invested also and you deserve to have a chance to make money on the deal. My producer friend told me of a conversation he had with an association director one time. He said he had raised the fees at a rodeo and the director came up to him after the rodeo stating that he was amazed the rodeo paid what it did with the higher fees. When asked why he didn’t think the rodeo would pay that good the director responded with he thought the producer was putting the extra fees in his pocket. Who needs PETA when you have your own directors working against you.
I think some of the fees should be raised for certain rodeos. Contestants have the same amount of fixed cost when they pull up to a rodeo. If you raise the fees by $25 to $50 dollars it would make the payoff so much better. The fees coming out of your entry sometimes can be 50%. Increasing the entry will help diminish the impact of those association fees.
There is no easy fix to any of these problems. I read a few minutes ago on my internet homepage that compromise is now considered a weakness in politics. I think compromise is what makes the world go around. How many 50 year anniversaries would there be without compromise. Not only does it take input from all involved it also takes compromise from all involved to make rodeo better for the future. We are all in this for the long haul. I’m not planning on changing professions anytime soon and I’m sure most of you are happy going to rodeos for many more years to come. Let’s try to make it better for the future.
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The Cowboy Sports News was started in August of 1990. From humble beginnings with a 16 page paper thrown together in a week to over 80 pages and an average press run of 15,000 papers on a monthly basis, we have come "a long ways". We are mainly distributed in Texas and the surrounding states, but with this website our readership extends worldwide. We are the only rodeo magazine with a "free" page by page full on-line edition for the entire world to see at the touch of a button.
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