What is the most dangerous American sport? I say Bull Riding. How do those guys get away with putting their lives in danger with little or no protection from injuries made from a 2000 pound animal? OK, it is one thing if a person wants to put their life at risk but where are the animal rights activists that should be protesting annoying a bull with people on his back that he clearly doesn’t want? I guess these questions never are raised in Texas where the only real requirement is those giant hats that never seem to come off the men’s head.
Although it is a symbol of the American West, Professional Bull Riding has been gaining popularity around the world. We are told that it is a big hit in Australia, the second most watched sport in Brazil just behind Soccer. The PBR is also trying to be known in China. I’m sorry if it seems like I am tearing apart the symbol of the American West. John Wayne and all his cowboy movies are things of the past all along with the Marlboro Man who we took a cigarette out of his mouth and said, “That’s not healthy” and now I want the sport to be under scrutiny for the health of the cowboys and the bulls.
Professional Bull Riding is a brutal sport. Throughout history those running the sport have always been unwilling to institute basic safety measures for their riders. Thankfully times are changing and pressure to protect the riders are bringing about some changes. It can be the most dangerous 8 seconds in the world of sports that battle of man vs. beast where more often the beast wins the battle. The shows have been taken to new extremes with lots of music and fireworks and light show. It is also part horror show all broadcast on national TV. What happened to the cowboy in only 8 seconds where some survive unscathed but most of them are thrown from the bull faced with serious injuries?
There are cracked skulls, and broken bones, cowboys getting knocked out not to mention the occasional gut wrenching when you get to see the bull kicking and landing right on top of the cowboy. Some riders never even make it out of the chute. It makes you wonder why anyone would sign up for a sport where one in 15 rides ends in serious injury. Many men have had multiple injuries and many concussions throughout the years. It is not a matter of if you will get hurt but when and how bad. Jerome Davis was once one of the best bull riders in the world. Now he raises bulls and is paralyzed from the waist down. In training rooms during events the walking wounded are treated for broken noses, ripped open chins and the paralyzed get prepped for the hospital.
The men don’t get paid if they don’t ride. Some riders will ride three times in one night with injuries all for about a $200 payday. The busiest guys are the doctors who have an old joke that treatment used to be a jar of Aspirin and a six pack of beer and if that didn’t work get more beer. Some of the guys have had as much as 30 concussions. The PBR would run commercials advertising their tours showing every kind of helmet for every kind of sport and then took pride in showing a cowboy putting on a flimsy cowboy hat. Who would take pride in not being safe?
Jim Hayworth is the new man in charge and realizes that safety of the rider is very important. Most of the new riders are used to wearing the helmet. It is a veteran rider that will still wear cowboy hats. Is it possible for a designer to create a safe cowboy hat? Hey if it was up to me I would have them wearing a suit of armor too.