Bull Riding is Back!
We are almost halfway through 2020 and looming uncertainty is becoming commonplace for most, with one exception. That glimmer of hope permeates from western culture’s professional bull riding, due to the creative and daring leadership of Sean Gleason and the PBR. As other major sports organizations continue to wave their white flags the cowboys have pulled on their boots for a bracketed tournament style team challenge, hosted by the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada.
It should be noted that all proper health guidelines are being upheld by the PBR staff and competing cowboys as administered by the CDC. These cowboys have proven time and time again they know how to overcome adversity and with their persistent outlook, COVID-19 doesn't stand a chance at keeping them from the fans or the sport.
This community defines resilience and hard work is something they welcome. We knew that it would be a matter of time before the show went on, but to our surprise we didn’t see this unique format and style coming.
This new series consists of champions from the PBR, Brazile, PRCA as well as some of the regular players from Unleash the Beast Tour. 12 teams, across 2 divisions, consist of 3 competitors and 1 alternate for each game. Cowboys have often been known to be mavericks as they individually chase a championship each year. However, with this new format, strategy and a team mindset is what will carry these cowboys to victory. This mindset came into play when the use of alternates Stetson Lawrence, Keyshawn Whitehorse and Eli Vastbinder were called upon at a moments notice to cover for an injured teammate providing the spark that led their teams to victory.
Odds-makers were heavily favoring the PBR competitors going into the Monster Energy Team Challenge, namely, Team Cooper Tires with Captain Jose Vitor Leme, Lawrence, Whitehorse and the selection of 6X World Champion, Sage Kimzey. The low expectations and overlooking of Team Las Vegas, led by Captain, Stetson Wright, proved to be a mistake. Selecting counterparts from the rodeo world including Garrett Smith, Chase Dougherty and Brady Portenier, their team finished second in the Division A bracket showing that they belong. Team Can-Am, led by the always dancing Ezekiel Mitchell and veteran Fabiano Vieira rounded out the top 3 headed to Sioux Falls.
In a sport that knows no “bad guy,” where toughness and consistency reign supreme and community matters most; the PBR shined for their efforts the past couple of weekends in Vegas! Even without fans in the stands the cowboys and contractors present cheered loudly, celebrating every 8 second whistle and continuously offering a pat on the back for support when needed! Each time a cowboy loads in the chute, its an underdog story, and that was really encapsulated as the cowboys got on 6 quality bulls in a span of 48 hours. Bull Riders ride. That’s what it boiled down to. Whether it was Mason Taylor riding with a badly injured riding hand and still going 88, or a dinged up Chase Dougherty gritting it out for 86.25 points or visions of Colton Jesse on every ride, not giving up til his head literally hit the dirt...the weekend for Division A was epitomizing of what it means to be a part of this community and the grit of cowboys! I definitely can see this new format becoming a staple for the bull riding world for years to come!
Just a few short weeks ago the thought of an event like this seemed impossible, and the future of coming back seemed like a far away dream. But, we have been united as a community and energized as a fanbase by the sport we love returning. Speaking as one fan here, to others, Sean Gleason and the PBR, we tip our hats to you for bringing us what we all look forward to, bull riding at its best.
Everyone out there, I’d love to hear from you and wanna know what you think!
- Can anyone touch Jose in the MVP race?
- Who was the biggest surprise?
- If you’re primarily a PBR fan, how did you feel about seeing a lot of the rodeo guys?
- Who in your mind is YETI Bull of the Event so far?!