Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Where's My Shovel?

We’re cleaning up the Stockyard, friends and neighbors, preparatory to the big end-of-the-season shindig we call the PBR World Finals, and Lordy! is there ever a lot to do! We must admit, the Montana Barn Cat and I, that we have been sorely distracted this season, what with trying to keep our work and living situations from getting completely out of whack and tossing us summarily off the teeter-totter. 

Keeping up with all this crap has pretty much convinced us that the notion of multitasking is bullshit, pure and simple. You can’t keep your eye on two balls at once—you have to toggle back and forth, and sometimes you lose track of one and get smacked in the face for your inattentiveness. That’s life.

Yet we have to confess that more than our standard obligations that have us out of sorts. No, one problem that has seriously weighed on us has been our inability to lose ourselves completely in the beauties of bull riding every weekend. Since we are anxious to be fair in our approach to all things, we are perfectly happy to lay ALL the blame for that sorry state of affairs on the altar of the Powers That Be at PBR HQ in Pueblo, CO.

Ever since the Big Versus Debacle, when NBC kicked the PBR and all its issue to the curb, the boys in Pueblo have been trying and failing to get decent TV coverage for what they bill as one of the “fastest growing sports in the world.” After some initial floundering around, in January 2012, the outfit signed on with CBS Sports Network to broadcast the next several seasons.

In a press release issued at the time, PBR President and COO Sean Gleason stated that "CBS Sports Network is an ideal network partner for PBR. Our fans wanted more live programming, consistent timeslots and continued enhancements in how the events are presented on television.  CBS Sports Network is an aggressive, growing sports network that allows PBR to deliver against all of those objectives." 

Well, guess what, friends and neighbors? The hallmark of this arrangement has been NO consistent timeslots for the broadcasts. We poor fans are lucky if we get to see one night of an event out of three, two at the most, and they are ALWAYS televised at some unpredictable hour of some unpredictable day. 

To compensate for the lack of broadcasts, the brainiacs at PBR HQ came up with the brilliant idea of airing the live events on the Internet via the so-called Live Event Center, which obliged those truly dedicated to the cause to either watch on their computers or figure out how to stream the signal to their TV sets. 

This hamfisted approach had an immediate effect—people who for years had turned on Versus every Saturday and Sunday at roughly the same time, give or take an hour on occasion, were suddenly scrambling to figure out if, and then when, bull riding would be broadcast. This confusion still has not sorted itself out. I literally cannot tell you how many fans have written to me over the past two years, moaning and complaining about this sad situation. And I have to admit I’m right there with them.

After all, I’m the woman who owned up to her addiction to bull riding in the second summer that this blog was up. I had no problem admitting then that I had a problem, and I wish to God that I had no problem admitting that I have a problem now. But the fact is, the current state of affairs has very nearly cured me of my irresistible urge to watch bulls jump every Saturday and Sunday nights. 

The good news is that the execs at PBR HQ have pretty much single-handedly discovered a cure for addiction. If all sources of alcohol (including that found in Lysol, hair spray, and mouthwash) suddenly vanished from the face of the earth, alcoholism would follow suit pretty much immediately. Alcoholics would either dry out, find a new addiction, or wither up and die, but alcoholism would be a thing of the past.

I wish I could consider this progress on behalf of humanity, but I really can’t. If I could fix one thing about the PBR—and believe me, there’s a hell of a lot that needs fixing—I would nail down a stable television schedule that would put bull riding back on the tube at least two nights of every weekend, on the same network, at roughly the same time. That would go a long way toward reviving the flagging interest that many fans tell me they are feeling. 

And it would also put more butts in the seats at the live events. I am virtually certain that most people who go to the events got interested in the sport because they’d seen it on TV first. Did any of you actually manage to see the broadcast of the Cooper Tires Invitational last weekend? Did you happen to notice the zillions of empty seats? How fast can a sport be growing if there’s nobody there to see it? I’m pretty sure that everyone in that audience didn't just decide to go buy beer at the same exact moment. 

I'm also just pretty damned sure that the dudes at CBS Sports aren't nearly as enthused about bull riding as they were in late 2011. When a sport ranks so low on the totem pole that it gets bumped off the air by beach volleyball, you know things have gotten serious. No doubt the comparative importance of the sponsors plays a role in such programming decisions. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Nike has hell's own drag with a sports network compared to Bad Boy Mowers.

There's a lot of talk of late about throwing every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives out into the street and starting over from scratch with some responsible people who might take their obligations to the country seriously. Well, somebody in Pueblo better be scrambling to fix this mess with the broadcast schedule. We fans can't vote anybody at PBR HQ out of office, but we can damned sure quit following the sport altogether. Shortly after we do that, nobody will be working for the PBRnobody. 

That would be one way to start cleaning up this mess. As we denizens of the Stockyard know, sometimes putting things in order means you have to shovel out a big pile of shit.