Ride ’em Cowboy

When we moved to the USA, we decided to see some typical American sports and so far we have been to baseball and ice hockey matches, and seen plenty of American Football on the TV.  One sport that did not cross our minds,  however, was Professional Bull Riding.

I caught some of this sport on TV a couple of weeks back and I was totally enthralled.  I could not tear my eyes away from the TV.  So when I found out that the PBR cowboys were coming to a town near us, I knew we had to go and see them in the flesh.  Well, they did not disappoint.

What I really like about PBR is the simplicity of the rules.  Bulls are quite feisty creatures, shall we say, so the single aim of the game is to stay on the back of the bull for eight seconds.  At this point, if the rider hasn’t already been thrown off and trampled underfoot, he will jump off and get out of the way as quickly as possible.  He then gets a score.  They all seemed to be scored around 85 or 86; I assume this is out of 100, and I really have no idea exactly what they were being scored on, in fact it’s probably just as confusing as the Olympic figure skating scoring system and I really don’t want to get into trying to decipher that again.  (Although I have just checked online and discovered that apparently two judges score the rider and two judges score the bull!)  Anyway, we were watching one of the very lowly first rounds of the annual championships, were they were deciding which riders would qualify to compete later on, but once you get to the finals there is big money at stake.  I saw one competition where the rider would win $1,000,000 for staying on his bull (sadly, he didn’t manage it).  Unlike some other American sports, the “world championships” in PBR do actually include competitors from countries other than the US, primarily Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

Most riders only seemed to stay on for about 2 or 3 seconds and then we had the fun of watching several men trying to coax the bull back into its pen without getting themselves flattened.  Amazingly, only one rider got injured when his bull stamped on his chest, apparently only giving him minor injuries (!!) but nothing out of the ordinary, so we were led to believe.

In between the bull rides, we were treated to The Entertainer, who was surely an inspiration for Brokeback Mountain, knows how to handle a lasso and can twerk as well as Miley Cyrus.  Presumably there are not many other jobs that call for all of those skills so he has certainly found his calling.

Aside from staying on the back of the bull, the only other rule we were told about was that if a cowboy gets thrown over the railings then the crowd gets to keep him.  Sadly we didn’t get to test out this rule.  Maybe next time …. ?

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