Bull Riding has become a major sport not only in America but worldwide and is attracting fans from all over the globe. It has long ceased to be a mere attraction at the end of Rodeos and has proved itself capable of being an independent sport with its international acclaim, its champions, its ‘Bull of the Year’, and its staunch fans.
Bull Riding is not new, it has been practiced in old Mexico for centuries as part of contests in horsemanship skills. Some even trace it further back to the Minoan-mycenaean civilization of ancient Crete (3000-1100 B.C.). From these ancient times when the bull played a role in important religious ceremonies, the practice travelled, like all cultural phenomena, across Europe, e. g. Spanish bull fighting, to Mexico. From there, it was taken over by the cowboys in USA as part training in horsemanship skills and as a contest in endurance.
It has naturally evolved from those early beginnings and now has its ruled and its official organizers, Professional Bull Riders, Inc, the international organization in charge of the sport since 1992. Their first headquarters was in Colorado Springs, Colorado from where they moved to their present offices in Pueblo, Colorado, USA.
Riding a bull for eight seconds might seem easy till one remembers that the bull is bucking and the rider has the use of only one hand gripping a rope tied round the belly of the bull. Some forms of the contest are more exciting-scary because of the position of the rider which could potentially tip him over the bull’s horns. These can be lethal even after being shorn. There are other risks if the rider falls; he might too entangled in the rope to free himself in time or could be trampled by the animal. All that probably adds to the excitement if the sport.
The number of countries now taking part in the sport had increased to include Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and China besides the USA of course. Total viewership whether via the screen or by actually attending events has also increased dramatically with the number estimated to have been 101.7 million in 2008. Furthermore, its revenues have rocketed from over $330,000 in 1994 to over $11 million in 2008. Two-time defending World Champion, Silvano Alves, amassed a hefty $1,464,775 last year alone. The culmination of the Bull Riding contests is the World Finals which will take place in Las Vegas later this month.