Answers seem a long ways away

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Over the last week, I’ve visited with several people concerning all the goings-on with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the top contestants in the game.

The calls came from contract personnel, sponsors, committee members, contestants and former contestants. The calls have been about what the future holds for the sport of rodeo, the PRCA and the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The reality is all of it has been up in the air. Some have been involved in the deepest levels of politics in the sport, so their insights are quite interesting.

Ted Harbin TwisTED Rodeo
Ted Harbin
TwisTED Rodeo

Each entity had specific agenda, with each looking out for their best interest. A former board member shared his excitement for the future of the sport, noting that the top contestants are doing the right thing by stepping out on their own. The highest majority agreed with the sentiment that contestants should receive more of a voice with the decisions being made in the PRCA. As one caller pointed out numerous times: “It is called the Pro Rodeo COWBOYS Association.”

The PRCA board consists of two stock contracting representatives, two committee representatives, one contract personnel representative and four contestant reps. Is that the best representation for the entire PRCA membership? Probably not.

The top contestants developed a proposal that included an increase in board memberships, from nine to 11. The two additional board members were to represent NFR contestant members, based on further pieces of the proposal that were to establish a two-card system. That proposal was rejected by a 5-4 board vote a little more than a week ago.

During the conversation with the former board member, I learned that there has been a great divide between the contestant reps and the other board members for decades. Does that point to an overhaul in the PRCA board? Quite possibly. Would the addition of two more elite contestants be the answer? That remains to be seen, but the bulk of PRCA members deserve representation.

Very little word has come out regarding the split between the elite contestants and the association. What appeared to be a move of solidarity between top contestants and the PRCA turned out to be a push by some contestants to show Texas’ interest in being the NFR’s future home. There is no collaboration with those who are part of the Support Rodeo Contestants’ Facebook page – those elite contestants who pledged their support for a new, member-driven organization with supporters including 19-time world champion Trevor Brazile, four-time world champion Bobby Mote, eight-time titlist Fred Whitfield and NFR bulldogger K.C. Jones, just to name a few.

In fact, the last post from the Support Rodeo Contestants’ page came last Wednesday. But there have been hints on social media that the group is continuing to progress toward secession from the PRCA with a world champion making such a comment as late as Sunday afternoon.

So how will this all play out? How long will it take before we learn more about rodeo’s future?

I wish I had a magic crystal ball, but, for now, all I can do is trust that it will all work out in the best interest of everyone involved.


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