Sunday, January 23, 2005

Say it ain't so

Having grown up out in Texas and Oklahoma, I developed a strong belief that the most admirable and possibly the best athletes on earth were those who put up their own money and relied on their skill and courage to make a living riding bulls. These guys did not rely on long term contracts or big endorsement contracts in most cases. They had to get on the back of a one ton bull and stay there for 8 seconds to get paid. Not only that, but once they failed to stay on, the bull was able to assert his physical superiority on the cowboy in a number of ways. For this reason, injuries of various sorts including concussions, broken bones and lots of bruises and contusions were common to bullriders and they were required to persevere despite such maladies if they were to get paid. They didn't get sick leave.

Yesterday afternoon NBC had a bull riding competition on which I caught some of. It was a little sad to see the modern bull rider wearing a helmet complete with a face mask and a vest with protective armor plate. Obviously, the modern day bull rider is showing considerable recognition of his vulnerability and is probably revealing a healthy dose of intelligence vis-a-vis his predecessors, but I am having a hard time developing the same admiration for the modern-day bull rider.

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