Monday, April 28, 2008

Guilherme Marchi: An Appreciation

While nobody could be happier than I am that Adriano Moraes split the title with Dustin Hall at the Cooper Tires Invitational outside Chicago this past weekend, I have a sneaking suspicion that once again, Guilherme Marchi was robbed. His short-go ride on Malibu was amazing—he was seriously out of shape twice and had to pull himself back upright both times, but in the end, he stayed aboard. I wouldn’t argue with the score of Adriano’s last ride for all the tea in China, but Hall’s trip on Crossroads just bolsters my contention that the judges score spinners higher than jumpers. And I don’t like it one bit.

When the Cooper Tires Invitational was over, Guilherme Marchi was riding 79.25% of his bulls, an absolutely astonishing statistic. In his nine years on the tour, he has won two events, been in the top five nine times, been in the top ten 11 times, scored 90 points or better seven times, and ridden fourteen consecutive bulls before he finally got bucked off. He has finished second at the PBR Finals in Las Vegas three times. This season, no matter what he gets on, he is a serious threat to go eight seconds. He is now the overall leader by better than 2,000 points. And yet he climbs aboard a bull who does everything but jump to the rafters to get him off, and he still gets outscored by a kid on a bull that my cocker spaniel could ride. This has nothing to do with Dustin Hall, who like everybody else has to take what the bull dishes out. I can only fault the judges for this state of affairs.

By all accounts, Guilherme Marchi is a stand-up guy. In an interview a few weeks ago on Versus, J.B. Mauney said that Marchi always encourages him before he rides and praises him when he’s successful. 8 Seconds, the official PBR program (which, by the way, boys, is now woefully out of date), describes Marchi as a “dedicated husband and father, always willing to accommodate his many fans.”

It then goes on to say his English skills “improve daily,” to which I also take exception. It may have escaped your notice, but practically everybody in the world speaks a language other than English. If the PBR officials had any sense at all, they would have hired themselves some commentators who could speak Spanish and Portuguese YEARS ago, when Adriano and Ednei Camenhas showed up. Why should we expect everybody else on the planet to accommodate us? And don’t give me that “because they’re in our country” crap. We Americans go stumbling off into foreign lands ignorantly expecting that we will, somehow, make out without speaking a word of anything besides English, and we even have the gall to get mad when it doesn't work out that way. It’s a wonder any of us get back alive, but worse than that, it’s embarrassing, and it’s at least equally embarrassing that the folks who put 8 Seconds together would stoop to saying one word on the subject.

Having said all that, I don’t speak Portuguese (yet), and of course I don’t hang out in the locker room at PBR events, so I have no idea what the Brazilians say among themselves about their gringo competitors, but I was also embarrassed a couple of years ago when I was watching the documentary Beyond the Bull and I heard J.W. Hart opine that it was just about time for the Brazilians to all go home. That kind of ugly American attitude doesn’t help anybody. Every rider at a PBR event has to qualify—you don’t just walk up to the gate and pay your entry fee.

And every time I see Marchi on television, I am struck by how happy he is just to be here. This sport and this country have made him a wealthy man, and it’s obvious he’s grateful. He rides like somebody in love with the sport, and for that alone I have to cheer every time they open the gate for him.

One final note: I have only seen a handful of PBR riders in person, but when we went to the Nile Invitational in Billings three years ago, we passed Mr. Marchi and a couple of his Brazilian compatriots coming into the Sheraton (now the Crowne Plaza) as we crossed the lobby. Barn Cat is the handsomest man I have ever laid eyes on, and that’s the God’s honest truth, but I am telling you, Guilherme Marchi is definitely worth a second look. If he and I were both single, I’d do my best to strike up a conversation. And you can bet I’d learn how to say, “Whassup?” in Portuguese.


Jean said...

Well said, but that's no surprise!

Another thing that galls me about the whole language issue is when at least 50% of the people I hear or read complaining about people speaking in other languages or with thick accents write at the level of the average first grader. If you wish to talk about thick accents, just drive around the U.S. and talk to the folks "barn an' rayzed hair" who don't know, or don't care, that there is a difference between "there", "they're" and "their".

Shelia said...

Thanks for this honest look at Guilherme and the judging system. I brought this up on Gibson's Pro Rodeo Forum and more than a few people there jumped all over me! "It's all about riding style," they said, "and the looser riders (rag-doll style) will always get 2-4 points higher than Guilherme." Well. that's BULL! Isn't it about 8 seconds?
And as for "English," the PBR commentators need to learn the difference between "ride," "rode," and "ridden." I'm sorry, but you don't say "get the bull rode" on national TV and expect respect from educated viewers. At least Leah and Craig can speak English correctly!
And what about the American who wanted to send all the Brazilians back to MEXICO!
But back to Guilherme, I had to write the PBR to add my boos to those of the crowd in Chicago for his 87.5 ride. Sometimes I just want to cry when his scores come up and then cry again when he smiles into the camera. What a Champion!

Jean said...

I've heard that too Shelia. The rag doll riders look as if they are never in control. Guilherme is ALWAYS in total control, looks it, and should be scored much higher than the riders that flop like dead weight. In any other riding sport if you do not maintain position and control you're penalized. Should be the same with bullriding.

Shelia said...

I agree, Jean, but then the PBR told me that there's flopping around that's in control and there's flopping around that's not in control and Guilherme just holds on with his legs so he doesn't have to flop and that's not pretty riding so he gets scored less! Crap, I say!

shannon said...

Hi everyone! Mind if I jump in, too? I love having people I can discuss bull riding with maturely. I found that on Television Without Pity where I'm known as Teagan and I sense that I can find it here, too.

I, too, can't understand how someone who flops around on the bull looks better to the judges than someone who looks steady and in control. Not that I don't like some riders who have that kind of style, but it the whole issue just confuses me. I enjoy watching Guilherme both on the bulls and behind the chutes. What a great attitude he seems to have. I hope he stays healthy enough to take it all this year. It's his time.

I love your blog, btw, but I wanted to address the whole English thing. While I agree that some of the commentators could use a few refresher courses themselves, I don't let the "his English is improving" comments bother me. The thing is, is that if I were to go live in Brazil, then I would try to learn Portuguese. I wouldn't expect to have everyone try to understand my English for the rest of my life there. And I would be relieved to hear that they thought I was improving. English is difficult to learn and I commend Guilherme for taking courses and trying. I don't find that particular remark insulting, but that's just my opinion. Now, if someone wants to complain about his accent, that's another story!

Stockyard Queen said...

See, I think the comments on his English skills are all about the accent. If you pay attention when he talks, you can understand him just fine. And I agree that if you choose to live in a foreign country, you owe it to yourself to learn the language, but I wouldn't expect anybody to be fluent the day they step off the airplane, and I also expect that a lot of riders from other countries don't plan to live here when they first come to compete.

And, as Sheila rightly points out, a lot of those PBR riders aren't exactly Martin Luther King, Jr. when it comes to their speech. Physician, heal thyself!