The art of being thrown around by a large, angry animal

Or why you should watch televised bull riding

The art of being thrown around by a large, angry animal

Tom Foley, Sports Editor

We’ve all seen football, whether it’s American, Australian, or soccer. But how many can claim they’ve seen a man dressed for the apocalypse, wearing Monster brand cowboy chaps, launched into the air repeatedly by an animal weighing 2,000 pounds? Sounds a tad more exciting, no?

Bull riding is a high-energy, technical sport, and the process and rules for bull riding are very simple. Victim after victim dons the bull in a seeming attempt to prove their masculinity as the confused animal bucks and skips around. Each ride is worth a hundred points, but the rider isn’t the only one competing. Four judges watch the ride, all former bull riders themselves, and each is able to distribute 25 points–but the shocking part is that two judges judge the rider, and two judge the bull. 

That’s right. The freaked-out animal is a competitor as well. 

The bull is being graded on how difficult they are to ride. So, in terms of points, the angrier the better. The rider, for that reason, is the one who should be truly afraid. Each rider must stay on top of the bull for at least 8 seconds for the ride to be complete and  at no point during the ride can they use both hands, or they are disqualified. It’s one hand on, or you’re out. A score over 90 is considered “exceptional”. The top 12 riders compete in a championship round, and the rider with the most points total from the whole event takes the title. 

The sport we see today is mainly run by The Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR). PBR is an international bull-riding organization which has televised events on the CBS sports network since 2012. The PBR has over 500 different cowboys representing the US, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia, and began in a hotel room in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1992.

In that room, 21 professional bull riders from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) as well as the Bull Riders Only (BRO) each set down $1,000 dollars out of their own pockets. This group was seeking to break away from the regulations set by the PRCA and BRO and create their own competition in which fans would see “the best of the best, every time,” as said by its founder, nine-time world champion rodeo cowboy Ty Murray, a.k.a. “The King of the Cowboys”. 23 years later, the PBR would be picked up by Endeavor Group Holdings, which also represents the NFL, NHL, and UFC. 

But why should you care about a niche, random sport? Well, as weird as it may sound for a sports editor to say this, I’ve always struggled to find enjoyment in “traditional sports” and shied away from them for a long time. But there is something to be said for competition; it can be incredibly entertaining if the vessel in which it’s delivered strikes a chord with the audience. Hence, the popularity of traditional sports, as many viewers have seen it.

Bull riding has a considerable novelty intrigue when you first start watching it, so many people who come across it may stop and watch a few rounds–but those who stick with it long enough to understand will find there is a lot to enjoy. Bull riding is a sport with a rich history. Bull taming is a sport that has roots back to the Aegean Bronze Age, in the Minoan civilization. But the actual riding of bulls has a rich history in Mexican contests of ranching skills called Charrería. I won’t go too in depth, but bull riding is a sport with a lot of cultural significance for thousands of years.

And it’s electric.

So, if you’re tired of watching the ball get thrown around, why not watch another human get thrown around for a change?