Friends and neighbors, I regret to state that yesterday I attempted to publish yet another brilliant post on this inestimable blog, only to be thwarted by technical difficulties. Alas and alack, by the time I managed to sort all that out, I had lost my enthusiasm for my subject and had to comfort myself by making a lovely dinner for the Montana Barn Cat and watching a bunch of trash TV.
But never fear! I am back, because while I was moping around over the weekend, sadly commiserating with the Barn Cat because the bulk of the PBR event in Kansas City was not broadcast (I adamantly refuse to grant that the LEC is a legitimate broadcast), I was suddenly struck down by a revelation. I know why the Powers That Be at the PBR have neglected to book air time for several of the BFTS events this year! It’s because they want to give me plenty of time to POST MY SNARKY OPINIONS here on Turn Him Out!
You can be certain I will not let them down, fellow travellers! In the course of the season, there is so much shit flying through the air around here that we have to hustle like ninety to comment on the occurrences at the events, and thus we only occasionally have the time to contemplate the bigger, more philosophical picture. So this is the perfect opportunity for me to sound off about something that’s been bothering me for as long as I’ve watched this sport. Since Montana Barn Cat and I have now clocked well over a decade of parking ourselves in front of the tube to watch the bulls and the boys, you can see that this has been festering for a long damned time.
And here, ridiculous anti-climax, it is: When a cowboy (let’s face it, almost always an American cowboy) is getting ready in the chute, why in hell do the commentators insist on saying, “[Fill in the blank] can ride any bull here.”
Now, in St. Louis two weeks ago, it’s true that on the first night, 20 cowboys managed to make the whistle. But all that tells me is that the pussy pen was in the house that night, because come the short round on Sunday, NOBODY managed to stick for eight seconds.
But here’s my point: If we look at the stats, we are forced to acknowledge the undeniable fact that of the top 10 riders (as of the end of the Kansas City event), only THREE are riding more than 50% of the time. Shane Proctor, who is riding the best at the moment, has a riding percentage of 58.33, which means he is making the whistle a little less than two-thirds of the time. (The other way to look at it is that he’s riding just over half the time, but since I like Shane Proctor, I reserve the right to spin that stat to my own satisfaction.)
Put another way, that means Proctor gets tossed off about every other bull he tries to ride. And that means that the remaining seven riders in the top 10 are riding LESS than half the time.
So this is the way it goes, weekend after weekend: Commentator A: “This guy can ride any bull here all day long.” The gate opens, a few seconds click off the clock, and SPLAT! Bull fighters rush in, (we hope) the cowboy scrambles up and dashes for the fence. Repeat as necessary, up to 31 or 32 times a night.
Now, nobody knows better than I do that a rider can get on a hot streak, and then it will seem like no bull on the planet can throw him off. But just remember this: In 2008, when Guilherme Marchi won the world championship, his riding percentage was 74.75 for the entire year. That means he rode roughly three out of every four bulls he straddled. I had never seen anything like that, and I will not be surprised if I never do again.
So drastic as it would be, how about we change our approach and start talking about how HARD it is to ride bulls. How about we forego the bullshit propaganda about man conquering animal and accept the fact that even the best riders get thrown off—a lot. How about we celebrate when somebody manages to ride, because it's not a common occurrence.
The riders farther down the rankings, frankly, are hardly worth watching. If it were up to me, I’d cut the field to the top 20, not because I get tired of seeing the bulls buck—never!—and not because I get tired of seeing riders go SPLAT!, but because I get tired of hearing that “This bull should be right in [fill in the blank’s] wheelhouse,” followed by SPLAT! If I never again heard what a wonderful rider Stormy Wing is just before he SPLATS into the fence, I would count myself a fortunate woman.