I’m a huge sports fan. I love to see the incredible feats of athleticism, from Tiger Woods’ potent golf swing to Aaron Rogers throwing motion to the awesomeness of the NCAA Tournament.
It all translates quite simply into the world of rodeo. To be a good long-range shooter in basketball, it’s best to shoot better than 30 percent; if a tie-down roper shoots 30 percent (while riding a speeding horse that’s chasing a runaway calf), he’ll spend his reserve funds on entry fees and traveling expenses.
And while Kobe Bryant can be called tough for playing with a bruise on his cheek or a strained calf muscle, he gets to live in comfort at five-star hotels while enjoying fine dining on the team’s dime, all the while collecting $25.2 million from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Denver Broncos this week signed the great Peyton Manning to a five-year, $96 million contract. If he stays healthy over the term of the agreement, Manning will make in excess of $19 million a year. Both the Manning and Bryant contracts are just for playing the game – that money does not include the endorsement deals that come with their popularity. I can’t eat an Oreo without thinking of Peyton and his brother, Eli.
Meanwhile, ProRodeo’s richest contestant ever is Trevor Brazile, who has earned a little more than $4.2 million in the PRCA since he joined the association in 1996. It’s taken him 16 years to earn a salary that is about one fourth of what Manning will make THIS YEAR.
And while Brazile lives a relative comfortable life compared to most rodeo cowboys who travel the rodeo circuit, he’s not a Laker or Bronco. He still pays an entry fee, and oftentimes he pays the fee for three events, tie-down roping, team roping and steer roping. If Brazile struggles, he doesn’t win any of his money back. If he’s injured to the point he can’t compete, Brazile won’t get paid.
Manning, meanwhile, made $6.4 million in 2011, even though a neck injury kept him from playing a single down for the Indianapolis Colts.
Every football pundit in the world will talk about the toughness it takes to play the game, and I can agree with that. But football players have nothing on rodeo contestants. Cowboys ride with broken bones and torn ligaments, then they get in their van or car or semi tractor-trailer and drive all night to get to the next rodeo.
This week I saw Tiger Woods roll his eyes and scoff at a “professional photograher” who dared to snap an image during Woods’ downswing. I listened to “experts” talk about entitlement as Manning signed a overwhelming deal in Denver. I learned where wealthy professional football players were playing for even more money by trying to knock out an opponent in order to receive a coach’s “bounty.”
And it made me thankful that I work in rodeo, where even the most entitled contestants in the game work their tails off and are typically congenial and caring to their fans.
Way to go, cowboys and cowgirls. You are great role models, and I’m proud of you for that.