On the last weekend of this month, once again, great athletes from all over the United States will come to Washington, Pennsylvania. They are coming to win a small amount of prize money. They are coming to entertain the crowds. They are coming to ride the bulls.
In what could be the greatest example of love of a sport, the annual championship bull riding competition takes place on the 29th at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino. Men and boys will climb aboard bucking bulls and hang on for what has been called the most dangerous eight second in sports.
I agree, whole-heartedly.
They do it for the challenge, the competition and the love of the sport. It certainly isn’t for the money.
The top professional bull rider in America, a Brazilian named Silvano Alves, made an estimated two million dollars last season. Alves, the Ben Roethlisberger of his sport, won’t be seen riding at the Meadows. Guys like Silvano Alves do not come to tiny towns like Washington, Pennsylvania, on summer nights. Silvano has made it. He no longer puts his life on the line for mere gas money.
The riders you’ll see on June 29th will be doing just that.
They pay their own way. They find a place to stay. They ride, get patched back together and hit the road again (the next stop in this particular competition is in Gordonsville, Virginia).
The riders you’ll see in my back yard on that night are not big time. They’re not Silvano Alves or Chris Shivers and certainly won’t be confused with the legendary Ty Murray.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be entertained. The men and boys who will sign their names to the sheets of paper surrendering responsibility for their safety will give the audience the best entertainment twenty dollars can buy. Watch once and you, like me, will be hooked.
A handful will make a profit. A few might break even. Most of the riders appearing at the Meadows that night will go home busted, sore, and lighter in the wallet, having lost money after expenses.
We’re blessed to live in a small town that features not only rodeo events during the summer, but Independent League baseball as well. The Washington Wild Things do not play in hopes of making a living. They, like the bull riders, play for the love of the game.
If you choose to attend, do yourself a favor and stick around long enough to give all the participants, winners and losers, your applause and thanks. They put on a great show for little monetary return.
Me? I’ll do what I always do when watching bull riding. I’ll look on in amazement at the abilities and bravery of the riders, while silently rooting for the bulls.
I always root for the bulls.
Remember - professional athletes aren’t always those whose faces appear on cereal boxes. They’re also the ones sleeping in their trucks after a hard night’s work in the middle of nowhere.