Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Had No Idea

When Kasey Hayes threw his helmet at Blind Date in Sacramento last Sunday, he set off a firestorm of cussin’, discussin’, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth about whether his punishment fit the crime. Let me state at the outset that I think he deserved everything he got, because 1) I don’t think temper tantrums have any place in professional sports, and nobody is going to change my mind about that, so don’t even try; 2) any bull rider who assaults a bull is endangering another athlete, so he should treated exactly as if he had taken a swing at another rider; and 3) he also has taken the chance of enraging the animal and thus putting himself, the bull fighters, and anybody else unfortunate enough to be loitering around the chutes, in danger, which is absolutely unconscionable and must not be tolerated.

I don’t intend to get into arguments about whether any portion of the penalty was overly harsh. Yes, $7,500 is a lot of money, as it should be--a fine is supposed to hurt. Yes, he will be humiliated to some extent when he makes a public apology, as he should be. If it were up to me, he'd have to go to the contractor's ranch and apologize to him, and then go out to the pasture and apologize to Blind Date and hope the bull accepts it without hooking him in the butt. In particular, I’m not worried that poor little Kasey is being overburdened because he has to go to anger management classes. I’m not swayed by the fact that others, including J.B. Mauney, have shown us their fannies regularly for years, punching inanimate objects and throwing their bull ropes at cameramen. Furthermore, I don’t buy the argument that the locker room is a “private area” that should be off limits to cameras. The point is, it’s NOT off limits, the riders know that, and they should just deal with it. If they want to go outside and beat the crap out their trucks, I’m fine with that, and if the cameraman follows them outside to film that, they are free to deal with it to the extent they think the law will allow. Be forewarned, boys, that the law generally takes a dim view of people punching each other out under circumstances except outright self-defense.

Three things, though, have emerged from all this that I was astonished to learn. First of all, I was frankly amazed to find that the PBR apparently has a Conduct Committee. I have to wonder if they meet regularly or if they’re just called into action as events dictate, and I also have to wonder what kinds of situations they’d rule on. Apparently they aren’t on call to deal with routine infantile behavior in the arena, or cowboys crawling drunkenly back to their hotel rooms, but what if one of the cowboys gets pulled over for DUI, or knocks up a minor, or gets busted for running a dog fighting ring? Where is the line here?

Second, I had no idea that anybody who has achieved the age of 24 and the status of professional bull rider is still a “kid,” the term was repeatedly used in the PBR press releases and in Ty Murray’s blog about Hayes. By the time I was 24, I was married and running a household and nobody other than my grandmother would have called me a "kid." Certainly I sense an implication that a lot of these boys are just sowing their wild oats and thus their bad behavior should be tolerated, but I don’t accept that. I don’t consider anybody who’s 24 a kid anymore and I certainly don’t think calling him “a pretty good kid” negates in the slightest the seriousness of Hayes’ offense.

Finally, I had no idea that anybody at the PBR could manage to find on such short notice such a genuinely unflattering picture of Hayes as the one that ran with the original press release. I have to take my hat off to them on that one. It is, to paraphrase the inestimable Justin McKee, as ugly as a celebrity’s mug shot. Hayes looks like a hatchet murderer, though I have to confess that I pretty much think anybody with any facial hair looks like a hatchet murderer. (Probably a hangover from a long, bad marriage to a bearded man.) But I have to believe the choice of that photograph was deliberate. I do wonder how much anger lay behind it.


shannon said...

Well, SQ, I agree with you on just about everything here.

I like Kasey, but that incident shocked and disappointed me as much as, if not moreso, than JB's tantrums. I guess because I've never seen anything like it from him before. He's normally so controlled (at worst, I've seen him stalk out and smack the side of a gate on his way out--and that wasn't even a punch as his hand stayed at waist level w/o drawing it back to achieve full force).

I still think (and fully admit that I could be wrong) that he was just messing around and went too far, but that certainly doesn't mean I'll give him a pass on it. I agree with everything they threw at him (pardon the pun), even if the anger management perplexes me a bit. But, I'm going to assume they know something I don't.

Needless to say, I'm interested in his apology and to see if others settle down from here on out because of it.

Oh and one more thing: even when I was a kid, those kinds of outbursts were unacceptable in my house, so even if he was 18, I wouldn't give him a pass because of the young age.

Stockyard Queen said...

I think the last time I threw a temper tantrum in public was probably when I was about 3, in the grocery store, and I can assure you my mom put a stop to it immediately. Doubtless that's why I'm such a harda** on the subject.

Shawk said...

It's kind of weird to me because I was there, and as mentioned elsewhere, the general reaction seemed to be a bewildered, "Uh, okay." The announcers said something like, "Well, that'll show that bull. He'll never do that again..." and people kind of chuckled and that was that. Hayes was kind of grinning as he left the area and the next ride started.

I still haven't heard the infamous commentary by McBride and others during the telecast, but after reading more and thinking about it, I'm pretty sure this is the warning shot and Kasey Hayes just happened to have a giant lapse of judgment that put him in the cross-hairs. With the increasing national coverage of the PBR, they have to be terrified that PETA or the like is going to get up their nose.

Although I do so love the people who apparently can't understand that throwing a hat near a bull to distract it after a ride isn't the same as chucking your helmet directly at the bull because you're mad that you bucked off. Or that punching a wall is different than throwing an item at a bull. The issue isn't that bullfighters have thrown items at bulls (which has a point in attempting to avoid impending human injury) or that the bull wasn't hurt, the issue is that you can't have competitors reacting spitefully towards the bulls.

Rambling... anyway. Thanks for putting up some clear thoughts on the issue!

(If I come up as Shawk, I'm S. I dunno what Google is doing.)

Stockyard Queen said...

S. (or Shawk), are you and I the same person? Are we twins separated at birth? Because I also have a sneaking suspicion that the Powers That Be at the PBR have finally decided to nip this crap in the bud. About time, I think.

Shawk said...

Maybe we're mind-twins. I wouldn't object. ;)

Has anyone seen any mention of who is in this conduct committee?

I also wonder what falls under their jurisdiction. Just what's televised? Everything?

shannon said...

Good post with good points, S.

Time will tell if this is a PETA issue or all bad behavior in general. If we continue to see tantrums, then we'll know that they are trying to keep PETA at bay. I hope, though, that they are trying to stop the tantrums altogether.

Black Boots said...

Good on all points, SQ. Before this incident, I admit that except for his almost useless face mask (that only served to dislodge his hat on every ride)Kasey hardly blipped my rider radar. So when I saw him throw said mask I was a bit startled--and had a sneaking suspicion this was going to start exactly the kind of storm that's erupted. And I, for one, am glad.
It's time that unruly behavior exhibited by some of the riders gets nipped in the bud. For me, the punishment fits the crime and if it stops even one youngun' from pitching a fit, so be it.

And if that godawful picture prevents another youngun' from growing that chin spinach on his face--even better!

Shawk said...

Did you notice that they used a "chin seaweed" (great phrase!) photo again when talking about the apology? I guess they wanted to contrast with his new clean-cut image or something.

Anonymous said...

I saw a rerun of the "incident" on TV Monday night on VS and I have to say, the bull was bewildered looking ... he looked right and left and then looked for the gate, as if he was thinking he should NOW leave the arena if people were going to start throwing things at him.
Also, Hayes had some spunky comments in the Dallas Morning News Sunday or Monday, calling the bull names. Probably not the smartest thing to do. $7,500 would dent my wallet pretty hard if I had to pay it again.