OPINION: The need for a new lead

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A change at the top is coming.

Karl Stressman is leaving the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, retiring at the end of the year as commissioner of the sport’s premier sanctioning body.

Ted Harbin TwisTed Rodeo
Ted Harbin
TwisTed Rodeo

It will conclude his nine years with the PRCA after serving as director of event marketing for Wrangler Jeans and Shirts.

“I sat down in the commissioner’s chair for the first time in September 2008, and I made a promise to myself that I would give my very best efforts each and every day to improve the sport of rodeo,” Stressman said in a PRCA news release. “I made myself another promise that I would stay at the PRCA as long as I enjoyed the job. Well it’s time to say goodbye.”

There has been speculation of Stressman’s departure for a few months, and it seems there was a significant number of board members who had agreed to his ouster. Friday’s retirement announcement now opens the door for the next person to take over the leadership role.

As of Friday, Stressman has placed the PRCA in a solid financial situation, several million dollars in the black. The PRCA has increased its bankroll nearly 10 times of what it was when he began the job in 2008.

Karl Stressman
Karl Stressman

But there is still work to be done, and Stressman’s replacement needs to be the person to handle the heavy lifting that comes with the job. There are tasks that must be implemented to bring together a varied and large membership.

The PRCA board will have the final say, but a workmanlike approach to the tasks at hand will go a long way in defining the association’s next leader and the future of the top organization in the sport. There is a need for a businessman or businesswoman who can handle the finer details of running the day-to-day operation.

As we move forward in such a historically associated sport, we’ll need someone who is tech-savvy and can push the PRCA forward in that regard. The new leader must have a keen understanding of the sport and its legacy.

In a sport that is defined by the passion of its members – contestants, stock contractors, contract personnel and committees – rodeo needs its next leader to not only understand the love affair but is willing to be dedicated to preserving it.


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