Friday, August 22, 2008

Viva Chihuahua!

Late as it is, I want to comment on the World Cup, held last weekend in Chihuahua, Mexico, the second time the PBR has gone down there.

1) On the first night, I got a kick out of the Canadians running away with it while the
U.S. team languished in the middle of the pack.

2) I also was very, very gratified by how well Adriano rode—I believe that’s the first time I’ve seen him ride all of his bulls in quite a while. He’s clearly an emotional rider—he has to get fired up to really get focused. And focused he was—you couldn’t have blown him off those bulls with a rocket-propelled grenade. Well done, Adriano!

3) I was somewhat saddened that Guilherme didn’t ride well at all, but since the event didn’t affect the BFTS standings, I really couldn’t get all that worked up about it.

4) I’m sure this will get me in trouble, but I just can’t understand what the big deal is about the Australians. I only saw Troy Dunn during the last couple years of his career, so I probably didn’t see him at his best, but the rest of these guys just aren’t showing me anything. Brenden Clark? Jared Farley? You boys need to bring it, or go home.

5) Although the U.S. team did step it up to win the event, the plain fact of the matter is the Canadians choked on the second night. It was theirs to lose, and lose they did.

6) Rocky McDonald is one of my favorite riders, and it was a pleasure watching him ride well for the Mexican team. It’s a shame his success didn’t help the team much, but I loved hearing the audience cheer for one of their own.

Watching it reminded me of José Pedraza Zúñiga, who won the silver medal in the 20K race walk at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Most people remember those Olympics because Tommie Smith and John Carlos made the Black Power salute on the medal podium (and got banned from the Olympics for life for it), and Dick Fosbury changed the high jump forever by going over the bar backward, but I can never forget that moment when Zúñiga entered the stadium and the crowd realized a Mexican was in contention for a medal.

I’m not sure that he knew when he crossed the finish line that he’d taken the silver, but the audience certainly knew it, and they screamed and cheered as he stumbled around on the track, clutching his head in disbelief. When finally it sank in on him what he’d accomplished, he made a perfect matador bow, stiff from the waist, his head nearly touching his thighs, his heels tightly pressed together. I was about 13 and mystified by all the excitement, till my dad explained, “They are his people.”

Just thinking about it makes me tear up. Of course, I tear up watching M*A*S*H reruns, so you can take all that with a grain of salt.

7) At the risk of beating a dead horse, I had to laugh when I read Sean Willingham’s complaint that since everybody spoke Spanish in Mexico, he really couldn’t tell what’s going on. (I guess I should be thankful he didn't say they spoke "Mexican.") Glad to see you might just be another average ’Merikin redneck, Sean, and thanks for representing us so well on the world stage. I’m sure it’s a huge surprise to you that not everybody else on the planet is interested in accommodating your ignorance. I hope to hell you at least had the grace to learn how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the language of the land before you went down there.

8) It appeared to me that the Mexican people totally offered the PBR their legendary hospitality, which makes me want to get down there pretty much immediately.

9) Next year, the World Cup is going to Brazil! How cool is that?

10) Mostly, though, I wondered while I was watching whether these guys worry in the slightest about getting hurt in these non-BFTS events. I’m probably just hung over because Brian Canter got so badly hurt during the Paso Robles Shoot-out, but I still think the issue deserves some thought.

Riders routinely strut around saying stuff like, “I ain’t afraid of no bull,” and “If you’re afraid to die, don’t ride bulls for a living,” but it seems to me that anyone with any sense would at least have to consider that riding in such events might not be worth the risk.

Of course, then we have the other extreme, demonstrated this very week, when guys like Travis Briscoe decide to ride in amateur rodeos and end up with broken bones and an extended absence from the Built Ford Tough Series. It’s time for some of these guys to recognize that bull riding is their livelihood—if you don’t ride, you don’t get paid, and if you can ride at the highest level, and get paid accordingly, why in the world would you jeopardize that? Are you really that hard up? Tell me, Travis—was it worth it?


shannon said...

Is it wrong that I sort of wanted anyone but America to win because JW (and Justin, who usually goes w/o saying) seemed so cocky going into this thing? I normally have a strong sense of American pride, but usually, the athletes can make or break that in me. If I'd heard what Sean said before (really, Sean??) I watched, I'd have outwardly cheered for the Canadians, who did an excellent job that first night.

However, after hearing Cody's interview with Leah after it was over, especially after almost two weeks of watching some gracious athletes who displayed some wonderful sportsmanship, I was so disgusted, I'm glad they didn't win. But, perhaps that's unfair to the Canadian riders, so I'm a bit torn.

I was thrilled for Rocky and Adriano. The former for doing so well in his own country, the latter for bringing his A-game. I felt bad for Guilherme and was surprised by the rare display of anger. But, I understand his frustration and was glad it wasn't an actual tantrum like some of the guys we know *coughjbcough*

As for them getting risking getting hurt on non-BFTS events--I have no idea what they are thinking. Perhaps they really do need the money? It's a mystery to me, too.

I never knew the high jump went any other way than backwards. Cool! I'll have to check You Tube.

Stockyard Queen said...

Yeah, Cody did seem sort of like a spoiled brat in his interview. The Canadians just blew it, that's all. They could have sewn it up with three rides and they couldn't deliver.

My recollection, long ago as it was, is that everybody went scrambling for the rule book to see if going over backward was legal. It's been backward over the bar ever since! Hmmm, there might be a metaphor there . . . .

Stockyard Queen said...

BTW, Shannon, they called Dick Fosbury's move "the Fosbury Flop."

Jean said...

I have been meaning to respond to this post all week long and just haven't had time to sit down and write more than a couple of zonk sentences.

Excellent post. Much food for thought here. Frankly, while I don't want anyone to break a body part, I'm not sorry to see Travis off my TV screen. Kinda the same way I felt when we didn't have to watch St. Justin at the Glendale event. Thus, while I'm glad Travis decided it'd be fun to risk his career riding rough stock for nothing at a nothing event, you make a good point. If a rider wants to just let loose and have fun at a local rodeo, I can understand that. Do calf roping or cutting or team penning for pete's sake. Can still drink beer and hang with old pals that way and not risk the rest of the danged season. That really was stoopid.

Shannon, you'll certainly not hear me tell you that you were wrong to be cheering on anyone but the U.S.A. in the world "cup" (world statue more like it, and couldn't they have had a statue of a bucking bull rather than a roping horse?) We went into the event cheering for Brazil, but as soon as JW opened his mouth we started cheering loudly for every bull carrying a U.S. rider. I think I even threatened a couple of those beauties with McDonalds if they didn't start bucking, which is unlike me.

Okay... Fosbury... and I thought I dated myself when I mentioned I taught myself to swim by watching Mark Spitz's unusual swimming style.

ooooooooooh Adriano DANG that cowboy can still look beaut-y-ful on a bull. That was a sight for sore eyes. I thought he was DONE when that bull damned near went over backwards with him in the chute. Those were the rides that brought tears to my eyes.