In the Ring with the Heckler – The 2015 Reno Rodeo

David Kim a.k.a. The Heckler, Contributor
David Kim a.k.a. The Heckler, Contributor

Hello WhatdoUwatchers,

It is the Heckler, I’ve had a busy past couple of months so I must apologize for my lack  of articles and videos. But as always, I have come back with some interesting tidbits  for your reading pleasure. This last weekend I was in Reno, Nevada for the annual  Reno Rodeo. I know what you are thinking, “What does this have to do with”

Here’s the thing…

For the most part the Rodeo is on TV. Well, the Bull Riding is anyway. Bull Riding is  the main event of sorts at the Rodeo, it’s what everyone is usually there for. If you have  no idea what I am talking about it’s okay, most of you wouldn’t be aware of the PBR Tour on NBC. No I don’t mean the beer. The PBR Tour is the Pro Bull Riding Tour. They compete for points, as they try to ride an angry Bull trying to buck them off. If they can survive, “The Longest 8 seconds of their lives” they earn the right to get points.

There are a couple of movies in my lifetime that try to capture the essence of the Rodeo. The two that come to mind are, “8 seconds” with Luke Perry and “The Cowboy’s Way” with Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland. Now while “The Cowboy’s Way” is more of a comedy that relies on its storyline more than anything, “8 seconds” tries to get into the life of the cowboy that competes in Bull Riding for a living. Needless to say I wasn’t ready for what was in store for me at my first Rodeo.

The Reno Rodeo was kind of like a bunch of things that I have either been to, or seen on television. First there was a county faire type of atmosphere to it. Rides, snack stands, a midway with games and carnies, shops, etc. There was also a beerfest type of atmosphere to it as the food area had stands that were devoted to food and/or alcohol. You could go around and mingle with the people who were already milling about the Rodeo. There were picnic tables to sit at and eat your food. It was very community orientated. Something you would take you family to, yet cool enough to have all age demographics represented. It also had a very sporting event feel to it. Almost like going to a really competitive high school football game on Friday night, in Texas.

The things that you don’t see on the TV is the in between event action. The MC of the event tries to represent the Rodeo community to the best of their abilities. He makes sure the crowd knows that the animals are treated right, and fair. The message at the Rodeo is that the animals are not treated like you “think they are being treated”. For the most part it looked like he wasn’t embellishing anything that he was speaking about.

The crowd is very diverse in its makeup, in that it isn’t just people there trying to watch the Rodeo. I mean yes, about 85% of the people at the Rodeo are solely there to watch the event, and to cheer for the Cowboys competing. The other 15% is what you would see anywhere else, groupies and teenagers trying to cause a little ruckus without getting caught. It was interesting to see how the crowd behaved live. You only get the view of the arena from the floor shot on TV, and it always looks like it is just full of “good ol’ boys, and the like”. The State Senator was there, the County Sheriff was there (seriously, stop laughing, he was really there), a bunch of former Champions and Legends of the sport were at hand. If this were a NASCAR event, I would akin this to Daytona. In Golf, it’s kind of like the Masters or the British Open. In Tennis, I was say Wimbledon.

The event itself was okay. I didn’t find it as exciting as I thought I would, but then again I had high expectations going in. There was no way (save a World Record ride of some kind) anything was going to meet, let alone exceed, my expectations. I fell in love with the energy, the drive, the spirit, the action, the competitiveness, the camaraderie, the authenticness, the purity, the simplicity, of the Rodeo events. That and the way they celebrated their winner, no matter if they were the #1 ranked cowboy in their discipline or if they were a 19-year-old fresh-faced kid getting ready to be the future of his sport. It spoke to me, to my core of cores. The Rodeo, in essence, is the last bastion of true sports. I am sold!


Anyhow these are the events that I saw at the Rodeo:

1. Bronco Bucking

  • It looked harder than the Bull Riding (until I saw the Bull Riding)

2. Team Steer Roping

  • One person has to rope the head, and the other has to rope at least one leg

3. Bulldogging

  • Jump off a horse and try to wrestle the steer off its feet

4. Barrell Racing

  • Ride as fast you can around three designated barrels and cross the finish line

5. Individual Roping

  • Gotta rope the steer, than tie the rope around its legs

6. Mutton Busting

  • Little kids riding sheep for as far as they can (Winning kid rode the sheep for like 20 yds)

7. Bull Riding

  • The first rider made to 8 secs, the rest of the riders got thrown off after like 4

Here are the non events I saw:

1. A one man Western show

  • Meh, it was cool just not really my thing

2. AMA Motocross stunt bikes

  • 2 riders doing tricks at the end of the Rodeo, it reminded me of the stories I have heard from Matt Hoffman about the early days of BMX riders doing halftime shows in the 80s

3. Wagons towed by Clydesdales

  • It was cool. A bunch of old school wagons, and a bunch of cool as horses pulling them.

So I thoroughly enjoyed going to the Rodeo, and I would recommend that you go at least once in your lifetime. I am definitely going again in the near future. I hear Folsom has a Rodeo as well. I can’t wait to see if it’s true.


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