There are two major forces that exist in the United States and in other modern countries that cannot be missed or ignored. The first would be sports. There are millions and millions of people that love sports and that would include both watching them and actually participating in them. Common examples of this would include basketball, baseball and football. However, the focus of this report will be rodeo. The other major force that exists in modern countries is the corporate sphere. The common manifestations of these corporate entities are advertising and the products that are sold to people. Whether it be cars, video game systems, homes or what have you, corporate powers make the economy run, they pay a lot of taxes and so forth. However, the two items mentioned above heavily converge in many ways and Jane Martin’s lament is that this convergence is too excessive and that it ruins the spirit and love of rodeo. While Jane Martin has a point, there is little to nothing that can be done to demarcate corporate interests and national pastimes like the rodeo.
There was a time and day where there was a minimal amount (if any) between corporate interaction between sports teams/entities and exterior corporate interests. This was especially true with the younger teams and groups. However, there has been a seismic shift over the recent generations and rodeo is no exception. What used to be about the love of the riders and the fans as it related to the sport has become more and more intertwined with corporate interests and money. Whether it be advertising in or around the arenas, advertising on television when the shows are televised, the sponsorships of the riders themselves, the advertising gear that is worn by the riders and so forth, it is impossible to miss the influence and involvement that business, both rodeo-related and non-rodeo-related, has with rodeo in the modern iteration of the sport. There is a decent amount of good with this relationship but there is also a good amount of bad things as well (Martin).
One good thing about this relationship is that there is much more exposure for the sport and more people can watch and enjoy it. Rather than having to travel to an arena to see a show, people can tune into ESPN or other networks to watch it. This was simply not available like it is now. In 1981, cable was rare to non-existent and now there are hundreds or thousands of channels, depending on providers or medium. However, not all of that is good on its own. For example, there are probably too many channels out there but the competition that exists and the advertising revenue (or lack thereof) involved will dictate who can afford to broadcast and who cannot (Martin).
However, the other parts of the corporate/rodeo duality are less than optimal. For example, the entire scope and feel of a rodeo show is going to change. Indeed, the focus of the format and itinerary of the show is going to center on the people watching the show remotely more than anything. Indeed, the people onsite will not be ignored but the flow of the show will always be dictated at least in part by the broadcasting part of the show. Beyond that, corporate interests will have an effect on what time the show occurs, how often the shows occur, what people are appearing, what people are not appearing and so forth. This can obviously rub fans or competitors the wrong way because they would feel that their favorite sport is being controlled and overtaken by corporate interests that are just focused on making money rather than because they love the sport. Much the same thing happens in other sports like football and baseball. While baseball has television timeouts that coincide with inning changes and so forth, the flow of other sports like basketball (both college and professional) and football (ditto) are broken up artificially by “television timeouts.” Basically, the game comes to a halt while ads are shown for people watching on television and the game does not resume until the ads are done. Of course, much the same thing will happen with televised rodeo shows. Even if the show is not televised, the corporate interests will be looking to make money so the arena will likely be plastered with ads and the show itself will be peppered with urges being levied towards the audience to buy things or do certain things (Martin).
Jane Martin was looking more at things like baton twirlers and snake handlers. However, all that has changed is the way in which corporate interests are, for the lack of a better term, bastardizing the sport of rodeo. It had obviously started back then and it has only gotten worse over time. It has gotten to the point where the organizations and corporate interests involved are fighting amongst each other. For example, one of the more prolific organizations relating to rodeo is the PRCA, which stands for Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. In response to a new startup rodeo company, they signed into effect a new bylaw that stated that no venue holding a PRCA show could offer another show from a competing company within three days before or after the PRCA show. The corporate part of the equation comes into play, in one form, via the deal that the competing startup (ERA) signing a deal with Fox Sports. The problem with all of this is that the focus is more and more on making money and less on the sport itself (Stadheim) (Q2 Sports).
While many people embrace the increased visibility and marketability of rodeo and other sports, there is a lot that less than desirable about the changes. That being said, the arc that is currently under way will probably not change so long as corporate interests control the purse strings and the riders/participants are going to vote with their wallets a lot of the time. It is an unfortunate reality that money talks and this is going to shape the sport or rodeo no matter what.
Martin, Jane. Talking With — . New York: S. French, 1983. Print.
Q2 Sports. “PRCA Fires Back At New Rodeo Tour, Vows To Terminate Memberships.” ”
Kpax.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.
Stadheim, Carrie. “PRCA Takes A Stand Against Start-Up Rodeo Association —
Thefencepost.Com.” The Fence Post. N.p., 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.
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