Bull Riders take Manhattan
What I know about professional bull riding can pretty much be summed up in a single word: nothing.
In fact, until I saw an article on it in the WSJ the other day, it had not crossed my consciousness that there is a difference between a rodeo and a professional bull riding event. (Not that I know anything about rodeo, either, when I get much beyond the Mouseketeers singing “Saddle your ponies, here we go, down to the talent rodeo. Bring along Susie, Jack and Joe, join the talent round-up.” Which, come to think of it, had little to do with rodeo, other than the fact that the Mouseketeers wore fringed shirts and cowboy hats on talent round up day. So I guess that what I know about rodeos can pretty much be summed up in a single word: nothing.)
Of course, thanks to the WSJ, I now know that professional bull riding is a subset of rodeo, which also includes calf roping and pole bending (huh?). There was no mention of bucking broncos.
My ignorance of things rodeo- and bull riding-ish can be explained by being a lifer in a region not known for either.
In fact, the Professional Bull Riding Invitational event, a traveling show, doesn’t get this far northeast. The closest it comes is that urban cowboy mecca, New York City, which this past weekend hosted the Invitational at Madison Square Garden.
Yee-haw! (Or something.)
There are over 800 professional bull riders, according to the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. And some of them actually can make decent money. PBR boasts that “the following bull riders can claim that competing in the PBR has made them millionaires, in some cases over the span of just a couple of years.”
Well, not exactly.
What followed that claim was a list of over 1,000 bull riders, ranging from top dog Justin McBride, who’d earned $5.1 million during his career, down to poor ol’ Randen Henry, who’d managed to rustle up a meager $2K.
All told, there were 23 riders with career earnings over $1M on the list. But I know, and you know, and maybe even PBR knows that someone who’s earned a couple of million dollars in the course of their career is not necessarily going to be a millionaire.
But I wouldn’t bet against Justin McBride and the other leaders.
McBride has a less bone-rattling second career, as a country singer. Plus I saw a picture of him wearing chaps advertising Copenhagen chew. And his web site mentions that he appeared at the grand opening of the Elk City, OK, WalMart. And I’ll bet that wasn’t for free.
Still, there are a lot more Randen Henry’s on the list, and the midpoint rider (Clovis Crane) had earned a whoppin’ $9.9K.
However many day jobs these boys have to keep, it is nonetheless interesting that there are so many professional bull riders, no?
I didn’t read through the entire long list of riders on the PBR list, but I must note that at least two of them were from Massachusetts. And not from western Massachusetts, either, parder. No, there were two fellows from Somerville, of all places. (For those unfamiliar with Boston, Somerville is a densely packed, blue-collar city that borders on Boston. Think ex-urb, not suburb.)
But somewhere along the line, a couple of Somerville guys cowboyed up.
Most of the professionals, of course, come from places like Antler, Oklahoma and Petrolia, Texas. (Don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather live in a place called Antler than in a place called Petrolia. Just saying.)
Professional Bull Riding also has a fantasy league, with a draft and everything. I didn’t really get into it, but I believe you draft both bulls and riders.
Not to mention an online store, a twitter account, and an official energy drink (Rockstar).
We in the jaded, effete Northeast surely do miss out on a lot.
Thank goodness that the professional bull riders at least get to New York City.
Maybe next year.