Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rodeo madness

Just to remind everyone, I don't care about sports, even when it's covered as news, although I'll also warn you that when you read about sports outside the sports pages it's probably because someone pays the paper a lot of money for it hoping to sell you something. I'm particularly skeptical about sports that involve the abuse of animals, and I just hope one day we will have evolved beyond that, or at least properly criminalized it.


Lesley Mckeown said...

While I agree sports are given entirely way to much attention, the subject of rodeo deserves to be at the least discussed. Historically, especially for Prescott, rodeo is a truly American tradition. It was the massive population growth in the Eastern States and the need to feed that populous that drove cattle barons to expand their operations out west. Thus creating the great icon the American "Cowboy". These hardworking men would often hold informal competitions among themselves and the various different outfits to see which group had the best riders, ropers and all-around best drovers. It would be from these competitions that modern rodeo would eventually be born. The 1st recorded event took place at this time.
The spectator sport that rodeo has become resembles only slightly those quaint events. Modern rodeo has however improved in animal treatment in comparison to early days.
Stock and competition animals are expensive and highly prized. Breed lines of rodeo stock are often the result of generations of careful breeding. Rodeo stock also live a much more natural life in order to keep them wild. Life expectancy is also longer than normal livestock. Anyone who has had large animals knows that they are a labor of love and receive better care and attention than their owners. This holds true for rodeo animals. It would be patently stupid to endanger horses or cattle that you have invested so much time and money. Easily 80% of all rodeo participants do it because they love it not for the money. As with any sport the big money goes only to a rarefied few.
The reality is that the animal rights movement has been good to rodeo. Rodeo has tightened down its policies and can lead the way for common sense, realistic, and humane animal welfare.
In my life time I have seen rodeo become a very specialized sport complete with all the glitz of other sports. But the roots of the sport remain, horses must be trained and cowboys still need to manage cattle. Sadly this is becoming a dying art form. Highly mechanized cattle facilities process animals by the thousands to feed a grossly over populated world. Animals are keep cheek to jowl in dirty pens and herded on conveyer belts to be killed and butchered.
Perhaps we should look to our own consumption and its repercussions before we judge a sport that treasures these animals and continues a proud American tradition.

Steven Ayres said...

Example: http://prescottdailycourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=100&SubSectionID=159&ArticleID=69867