The rodeo fall could be short, with a hard landing in mud & manure
by Steve Hindi
Rodeos are held across North America, but have such a narrow fan base that the concerts accompanying the major U.S. rodeos routinely outdraw the actual rodeo events, often by a factor of ten-to-one or more.
World Wrestling Federation events draw more audience in a month than Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Professional Bull Riders events draw in a year.
The top-drawing rodeo event on television, the National Rodeo Finals, attracts––over eight days––about a sixth of the audience of the Super Bowl, or about as many people as watch any single game of the World Series.
Rodeo is not even in the same league as real sports
More Americans watch basketball, golf, tennis, soccer, and hockey than watch rodeo.
More American school girls play basketball, golf, tennis, soccer, and softball than Americans of any gender and age have a participant connection to bull-riding, steer and calf roping, or anything else done to animals as part of rodeo entertainment.
International Ice Hockey Federation U.S. membership data compared to Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association membership, in all categories combined, shows that sixty times more Americans play organized ice hockey, among the smallest of U.S. participant sports, than ride bulls, or try to rope any sort of animal.
Rodeo, in short, does not have a whole lot of defenders who are not actually making money by promoting it.
Rodeo “could at least be substantially emasculated, in relatively short order”
Because of the open, indefensible cruelty and violence of rodeo, which result in many, many unreported animal injuries and deaths, as well as the many injuries and deaths that Showing Animals Respect & Kindness manages to put before the public on YouTube, rodeo could potentially be taken down, or could at least be substantially emasculated, in relatively short order.
What we need to do is simple, or at least simple to explain. Each town visited by a rodeo needs a couple of local animal advocates inside the arena during the performances. The animal advocates need only buy tickets and sit in their seats, ready to videotape injuries and deaths with their cell phones. Just a couple of people per performance can get the job done.
A few days ago a spectator at a February 19, 2022 Professional Bull Riders competition at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, not a chest-thumping activist by the way, showed how to do it. She filmed with her phone when the bull Red Alert was injured and sent the recording to us. Now the Professional Bull Riders are under the hot lights, trying to find cover.
Video documents 30 hours of rodeo animal torture
SHARK videotapes lots of rodeos, which is why we have more than 450 damning videos of rodeo abuse posted at https://www.youtube.com/c/SHARKonlineorg/searchm, documenting more than 30 hours of animal torture.
On the strength of our videography, we have made many advances against rodeo, costing the major rodeo organizations millions of dollars in sponsorship, but because the animal advocacy movement chooses to endow us with little in the way of donations, SHARK cannot be at every rodeo, especially when we are in the field working on cockfights and pigeon shoots, and helping other organization with our drones and other special capabilities.
Could cost the rodeo industry untold millions more
Over the course of a year, activists attending and monitoring every big rodeo would give the rodeo industry a few thousand dollars in ticket money, but the damaging footage, furnishing real evidence as to how many animals are injured and killed by the fake cowboys, would cost the rodeo industry untold millions, more likely tens of millions of dollars in additional lost sponsorships,.
Documentation of animal abuse in every rodeo arena in every town where rodeos are held would further suppress attendance, and would help to usher in new laws to protect rodeo victims.
Better yet, it would happen fairly quickly.
The fate of rodeo rests in our hands
An ordinance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has effectively outlawed rodeo for decades, simply by banning rodeo’s tools of torture, specifically use of electric prods, spurs, flank straps, etc.
This ordinance came about because an activist filmed one bull with a broken leg, after an incident similar to the crippling injury that Red Alert suffered in Knoxville.
In St. Charles, Illinois, near where I live, there is an ordinance against electric prods at the country fair rodeo because we filmed prods being used many years ago. Now there is a law.
“Frontline activists are practically dinosaurs”
So the good news is that the fate of rodeo rests in our hands, or at least that would be the good news if animal advocacy were still a movement, as opposed to a lazy, incompetent, profiteering industry.
Frontline activism works, people. Too bad frontline activists are practically dinosaurs today. Even worse, the tiny few who exist, do not receive support from the vast majority of donors, who choose to get suckered by the big, noisy groups making false and even outright fraudulent claims and getting precious little actually accomplished.
Rodeos, cockfights, & pigeon shoots
Large, wealthy, noisy groups like the Humane Society of the U.S., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American SPCA and others could each, on their own, substantially cover rodeos, and cockfights, and pigeon shoots, and other issues. They have lots of employees, offices, money, etc.
But frontline work is –– well –– work! People who are good at frontline work aren’t the same ones who beg and plead for money, so the big groups are staffed with lots of beggars, pleaders, and even fraudsters, but few if any doers.
Less time for salsa dancing
The big, noisy groups are also afraid they might get hit with SLAPP suits [Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation], as SHARK has been hit by wealthy pigeon shooters. For the noisy profiteers, fear of SLAPP suit is another reason to do nothing. And they’d have to leave their comfortable offices.
And in the case of at least one individual who has headed three national animal advocacy organizations, real work would leave less time for salsa dancing with staff members.
This movement’s lack of productivity in the face of incredible potential for change today is disturbing, disgusting, and embarrassing. Donors are suckered by the worst people and groups in the movement. Thieves and liars are rarely held accountable, because no one wants to look like a trouble-maker.
Taking down rodeos would be small potatoes for a real movement. It’s important that as we wring our hands and decry the cruelty of the world, that somewhere in our hearts and minds we acknowledge that the real enemy to change isn’t the opposition –– it’s us. Then those for whom it actually matters can begin the necessary, step-by-step process to do what needs to be done, and eventually get to where we want to be.
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