It’s time for a change

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I find it strange that as the PRCA award nominations were released, one of the top five events up for Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year is the Pendleton (Ore.) Roundup.

From what I understand, it’s an awesome rodeo; it’s so big, in fact, that Hood River Distillery created a brand, Pendleton Whiskey, because of the event. The rodeo features a track with a grass infield and timed-event cattle driven through a long chute by a rider on horseback.

And, I hear, the volunteers that produce that event busts their butts. That’s awesome for the Pendleton Roundup and for rodeo.

But how does a rodeo get nominated for the 2011 Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year BEFORE its 2011 event even begins? The first PRCA-sanctioned competition began Wednesday, but the top five nominees were released before that – they were released in all categories, from stock contractor to secretary to clown, etc.

I don’t doubt Pendleton deserves recognition, but nominations should be held until the end of the regular season.

I asked Jim Bainbridge of the PRCA’s media department about it, and he gave a terrific response, explaining that ballots were sent to all dues-paying, approved PRCA rodeo committees within that season, as well as all participating contract personnel and contracting firms. “Each of the ballots that they receive has the option to nominate in all categories. Competing contestants receive a ballot only in the categories of rodeos of the year, stock contractors and rodeo secretaries.”

During the final ballot, all members get to vote, and any approved rodeo can be nominated. Pendleton will be done by the time the final ballot goes out, Bainbridge wrote me in his e-mail – the ballots are due back in the PRCA office in Colorado Springs, Colo., by Oct. 15.

I appreciate Bainbridge’s time in providing it. But it’s still wrong that an event can be nominated for rodeo of the year before it took place.

I know of contestants who never saw the first (nomination) ballots for which they were allowed to vote – the ballots were mailed home, but those contestants were on the road trying to make a living and unable to vote in time.

There is no reason to call for nominations until the end of the rodeo season on Sept. 30, and the use of technology allows for more immediate tabulating. Voting can be done any time, anywhere with the prevalence of smart phones, iPads and other communicative devices.

I’m not sure a wholesale change is needed, but the way it’s done now is backwards. Rodeo needs to continue to push forward, not step back.


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