By Editorial Staff
The Cheyenne Herald
June 16, 2009
The PRCA cowboys and the other contestants at Cheyenne Frontier Days take what they do very seriously. In this day and age, everyone views video of their performances in an effort to do better.
The bull riders from Hillsboro and Rice Lake, Wisconsin, have to put out some serious money to make the trip to Cheyenne. Barrel racers from Oklahoma and Texas don’t get here on their good looks (although some should). It’s an expensive sport and many of the participants, especially those who don’t reach the NFR regularly, need amateur video to try to sharpen their skills.
Will Cheyenne Frontier Days not allow even contestants to videotape rough stock and timed events? The ban announced on videotaping at CFD did not list exceptions. No one can video.
Other rodeos are overtaking Cheyenne with prize money. Cheyenne Frontier Days has had a mystique. An image. So did the Miss America Pageant. Montgomery Ward had pretty good staying power. As did W.T. Grant’s, F.W. Woolworth and S.S. Kresge. But, good things can end.
This publication has not weighed in on the accusations of a group called SHARK. Both the daily newspaper and the local television station have given the dispute between the animal protection group and CFD adequate coverage, in my opinion.
Rodeo is a violent sport. So is boxing. And football and hockey. The difference from rodeo and all other sports is the involvement of animals. You could believe that athletes in the other sports make a knowing choice whether to participate or not. Animals, of course, cannot. And, their reward for a job well done is to be fed. Maybe if that had been Mike Tyson's only reward, he wouldn’t have that garish tattoo on his face. And maybe the great Muhammad Ali would speak clearly today and move about with agility.
CFD had maintained that cattle prods weren’t used on bucking stock. That was not true and CFD came down quickly on stock contractors who used that “enhancement” to get their animals to buck harder and quicker.
I am not a big fan of rodeo. As a boy growing up in northern Wisconsin, we had a rodeo nearby that still perseveres but it held no interest to me. In fact, the first time I attended that rodeo was a couple years ago when we were in the area for another reason. As we drove through the crowd walking into the rodeo arena, a guy hollered at us, “this ain’t Frontier Days,” when he saw my plates. It wasn’t but rodeo fans are rodeo fans. They’ll tolerate almost anything. Still, I’m not sure locals (or visitors) will accept being without their cell phones because CFD is afraid a single group that embarrassed them with footage from recent Frontier Days’ events will do it again.
To some who attend CFD, not me but some, it is an event of importance. In the Midwest, you hear people talk about attending the “rodeo” in Cheyenne. It is a big deal to those who either enjoy rodeo or, at minimum, tolerate it. The history of Cheyenne Frontier Days is truly incredible. Cheyenne is, for all intents and purposes, a very small city. To have an event known around the world from such a small community is remarkable.
Will visitors now remember Frontier Days more for the ban on cell phones than for the rodeo? What inconveniences will be caused to attendees who did not know they couldn’t bring cell phones into the arena? Look at the scorn heaped on legislative bodies who considered a ban on cell phones for drivers of moving vehicles. “You’ll pry my cell out of my dying fingers” - a rallying cry similar to guns.
There have been memorable events at Cheyenne Frontier Days. How many rodeo fans with camcorders caught the horrendous final seconds of Lane Frost’s life? Nobody has been accused of trying to profit from that amateur footage, have they? One of those angles could have been helpful in determining just what happened to Lane. And how. Many use cell phones for both still and action shots.
What if you’re in the seats this year and B.J. Schumacher scores a 96 on his bull - and you couldn’t have a camera or cell phone video to record the record-breaking event? How many fans in the arena on Finals Day of 1989 have video of Marty Staneart being the first to ride Mr. T - for a score of 93 that has been the CFD record? Imagine if you had wanted to record both the Mr. T ride and the one that followed - the successful but fatal ride of Lane Frost - and had been told to take your camcorder back to your car.
However CFD tries to spin this ban, it will come back to an animal protection group, SHARK, putting them in a corner. To prevent one group from getting footage that might embarrass them, CFD is prepared to prohibit 10,000 paying rodeo fans who only want to get action footage of events they paid to witness, from doing so. In this economy, the worst possible decision would be one that limits spectators enjoyment and recording at a rodeo with the reputation of CFD. Not to mention depriving people of cell phones for calls.