Friday, January 3, 2014

Caution: Vulgarity Ahead

Here I am, folks, out in the Montana cold, rolling up hundreds of feet of garland and tiny LED lights that I had swathed over the fences and, truth be told, moping just a bit. No, I don’t have the post-Christmas blues. Fortunately for me, I really do love the holidays, probably because my parents did, and although I do sympathize with folks who find the season difficult because of personal losses or difficult circumstances, I don’t have any patience with people who want to piss on other people’s parades by railing about the “commercialism” and the rat race exhaustion and, of course and most important of all, the “War on Christmas.” If you have a problem about the holidays, I will thank you to keep your damned mouth shut about it. Go sit in the corner and brood upon your own self-righteousness and leave me the hell out of it.

The sad thing is that what I’m moping about isn’t like to get resolved anytime soon. The PBR season starts tonight, and I am finding it hard to work up any enthusiasm. I am more than happy to blame this on my dear friend and partner in crime, Pearl de Vere, because she recently reminded me of a post from way back in 2008 in which I was complaining about—wait for it—a lot of the same shit I’m still complaining about. 

Her observation prompted me to think about all the things that the PBR bosses still need to fix and seem oblivious to, from the very serious issue of making wearing a helmet mandatory to the less worrisome, but genuinely stomach-churning, matter of making Flint quit twerking. (In Pearl’s immortal words, “That shit has to stop.”) Is it really possible that he didn't get the fact that parents all over the country were horrified by Miley Cyrus' little display of bad taste?

Top it all off with the way the last championship was stolen from Silvano Alves, via a few points shaved off each successful ride at a time, and we are facing a disheartening situation. I will be very, very surprised if we don’t see the same thing this year, so as to guarantee that an American wins the title. 

I mean no disrespect to J.B. Mauney, who fought the good fight and gave us some spectacular rides in the process, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t think he got some help from the judges. I doubt that the PBR as a whole is organized enough to orchestrate a conspiracy, but I am also just pretty damned sure that some individual judges decided to take matters into their own hands and make sure Alves didn’t three-peat. (For more on this subject, I invite you to check out Kris diLorenzo's excellent posts on her blog, Bull Riding Marketing.)

All that being said, I don’t mean to suggest that the dudes who run the PBR should be jumping every time I say frog, although that would be nice. But it would also be nice if they would quit acting like anybody who makes a suggestion is the Antichrist and obviously just out to spoil their fun.


Let’s consider for a moment just one issue—making wearing helmets mandatory. Virtually anybody with any sense (which mostly means people over the age of 21 who weren’t born in a barn and who aren’t trying to ride bulls for a living) would agree that bull riders should wear helmets. It is, as Ruby would say, as plain as the nose on your face. But aside from the issue of public opinion, there is an ever-growing body of hard evidence that repeated concussions and even less significant head injuries have serious long-term effects. 

And now there's a formal medical diagnosis for a condition that can be the end result of multiple head injuries: chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Just trot on over there, please, and read about what this condition entails, and then ask yourself if it makes any sense for the PBR to continue to ignore this very serious threat to the health of the riders. How can simple bullheadness and misguided adherence to what they perceive to be the Cowboy Way possibly make more sense than adopting a policy to diminish such a clear and present danger?


Back in August, the National Football League settled a class-action lawsuit with a bunch of its retired players who had suffered multiple concussions and are now living with the consequences. The league shelled out $765 million bucks to help care for these players, and now it looks like that amount won't be nearly enough to take care of everybody. 

Granted, the PBR does not have anything like the number of participants as the NFL, but does it seem at all likely that the PBR could afford anything approaching a settlement that, let's say, set aside a similar amount per rider? I'm sure that the riders sign their lives away for the privilege of riding in the PBR, but there's always the prospect that an athlete might take on an organization that deliberately sidesteps important safety issues. Even if it was impossible for a rider to file a lawsuit, the publicity he would get for raising the issue would not be good for the PBR.

And that’s just one example of the PBR’s hell-bent determination to ignore the thoughtful and well-meant urgings of observers of the sport. We could go on forever, and sometimes it seems like we have, and literally nothing ever changes, and we continue to hear the same bullshit justifications from the organization. 

Honestly, it’s no wonder I’m in a funk. Who do we have to fuck to get some action?


Kris D said...

What vulgarity?
I'm of the same not-so-humble opinions:
1) Riders should wear helmets unless they've read about the risks, heard the Riot Act from Dr. Tandy, talked to some brain-damaged football players and prizefighters, and STILL want to wear a hat.
2) Silvano was robbed. Didn't I carp about those .25 dings all season? If I were better at math, I'd figure out what the real outcome would've been. Alas, I was an English major, and those bonus points and Touring Pro points make it impossible. And then there's the JB scoring manual...
Hey, do you know any statisticians we could ask? With all the information available, s/he could probably figure out the real deal.

PS--Go look at my Bullriders' Xmas List and New Year's Resolutions posts. Rasmussen's ass is very disturbing to me, too. He's been twerking since before there was even a word for it.

Stockyard Queen said...

I saw Flint at the Livingston TPD event, and I can't believe how little commonsense he seems to have. He told a long involved joke about an NFL receiver catching a baby who was thrown out of a burning building and then spiking the baby, and he seemed stunned when the audience collectively groaned. Then Brandon Bates stated that "We just can't say the things we used to be able to stay 10 years ago." No shit, Sherlock.

shannon said...

My Flint "no common sense" story was when he pointed out to all of us that if we didn't know what "Dutch Rudder" meant, the name of the bull about to come out, that he couldn't tell us because kids were present, but we could look it up. Gross. But then, after figuring out what "Liquid Kitty" meant, I wasn't really surprised with the name. Anyway, I couldn't help but wonder how many kids in the audience went home that night and looked it up. Thankfully, my two weren't paying attention to him.
I was sure that JB would win this past year, too, thanks to what I saw as fishy scoring from time to time. I don't begrudge him the win--he is good, he displayed some good sportsmanship (much better than many of his fans, I might add) and, as my husband, a big JB fan, says "he goes balls to the wall almost every time". He seems to have matured since becoming a husband and father. I just wish the PBR didn't make it so hard to like him. I seriously have to try hard to tune them out because it's not his fault that all of this is going on around him--not that I don't think he's enjoying it, of course--but still, I doubt he's asking for it. It's not like it's written in a contract. It'll be interesting to see what happens this year.

On a more shallow note: I swear to God if I have to hear "Bad to the Bone" every time he walks out this year, I'm going to scream. They played it three times in one day at Madison Square Garden (I'll explain how I know that later) and I was already rolling my eyes--and we're only on event number one.

Shawk said...

But, the cowboy way! Cowboy tough! (Sigh.)

Glad you got to go to NY, Shannon! I, too, am beginning to tire of J.B.'s name -- it's not his fault, but the PBR is relentless.

Based on what I can hear in the background of the broadcasts, Flint has developed no new material. Joy.