The Professional Bull Riders Rodeo is not a typical rodeo, where you find different sports such as roping, barrel racing, and bronc riding. It is exclusively focusing on bull riding, with statistics on riders and their furry athletes, the bulls. Each bull has their own statistics and scores, focusing on their buck off percentage, how many times they’ve been ridden and their average ride score. PBR continues year-round, with around 300 events and global tours, finally stopping in Las Vegas for the final event. This year, I got the privilege to attend the 2022 PBR Canada Finals, joining the 3 million fans of PBR.
I’m bundled up in my warmest sweater, it’s nearly 7 p.m., and I am just reaching my seat in the Rogers Place Arena. Everyone is wearing their best jeans and their dirtiest boots. As soon as the lights turn down, I feel the energy climb, and soon enough, the cowboys are introduced. With each new name comes another burst of flames in the arena, warming my face and almost melting my lashes. This is the Professional Bull Riders Rodeo (PBR).
Riders sit atop a bull, one hand free and the other gripping a rope. Once the rider is ready, they nod their head, the cage opens and the bull begins to buck. If the bull rider lasts at least eight seconds, they get ranked and join the top riders on the scoreboard. Some might call this the most dangerous eight-seconds in rodeo with some bulls weighing a hefty 2,000 pounds.
I don’t know much about bull riding, but I quickly learned that it’s about a long-standing tradition of respect, honour, and hard work. PBR Canada is more than just bull rides. It is a community that uplifts each other. Riders help others set up, encourage each other, and keep a positive environment.. Sitting among the crowd, I find this is unlike a hockey game, where it’s customary to cheer against the other team. The crowd cheers for every rider, especially those riding from other countries; they jump out of their seats for the ones who take a hard fall, cheer on those who don’t make it onto the leaderboard, and, of course, celebrate the wins. The audience loves to make the bull riders feel the positive energy from the fans.
After watching about eight to ten different rides, I left to buy overpriced snacks and a beverage. During the intermission, I met a group of ladies and asked them why they’re at the rodeo instead of a bar watching the Oilers game.
“Are you kidding? There’s 20 of us here; I don’t think a bar would like how rowdy we get.”
And I agree, a rodeo is where you bring your friends, have fun, and get (responsibly) rowdy. There is a culture of polite sportsmanship in rodeos — even the audience practices the same
good manners. A good rodeo consists of three things: a good attitude, chivalry, and your dirtiest boots.