SBJ/April 22 - 28, 2002/Opinion

'Original extreme sport' ropes fans, sponsors

I was disappointed with SportsBusiness Journal's coverage of rodeo in the March 11 issue. For a sport that sits eighth on your list of total spectator attendance for 2001 at over 22 million, your very short article did not in any way capture the popularity of the sport, its fan loyalty, the wide geographical coverage area, nor the large number of other national and regional organizations that sanction rodeos and bull ridings. I also believe the attendance numbers are actually higher than listed.

Promoters seeking sponsors for rodeo events throughout the country were done a disservice by this article. Using three-quarters of a half-page article to talk about one bull riding organization (that the article points out split from rodeo) does nothing for the sport of rodeo.

Research into the sport would have shown:

Just like many other sports, rodeo athletes start in the sport at a young age and advance from peewee to junior to high school to college to the professional ranks. The largest rodeo event in the world is the National High School Finals Rodeo, with more than 1,500 athletes competing.

Rodeos are popular and well-attended all across the country. I'm not sure what was meant by regional appeal, but rodeo's region covers the entire United States and many foreign countries. If you go to the Internet, you will find sites for many different associations that have rodeos happening everywhere. Additionally, there are many organizations that don't advertise except locally and they can fill arenas with spectators.

The sport of rodeo is unique and appeals to all ages of fan. It is a sport that sets young minds early into product loyalty and recognition. It is a sport that holds fans, because of its varied events. Be it competitor or spectator, there is something for everyone at a rodeo.

Both men and women are avid fans and competitors. They compete in separate events — or in some organizations, in the same events.

Rodeo and bull riding draw fans from all walks of life, are very sponsor friendly and repay their sponsors with product loyalty. Any company looking to advertise with America's "original extreme sport" would be welcome within the industry and satisfied with the response its product would receive.

Dennis Hathaway
Manassas, Va.

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