CFD's Policy on Video Cams Won't Work

May 30, 2009

Like a greenhorn with a new Colt .45, Cheyenne Frontier Days has shot itself in the foot with its new policy that bans video cameras from its rodeos and slack events.

You might think that a high-powered, well-marketed event like CFD would know better.

Apparently not.

First off, this policy is virtually unenforceable. Think about all of the modern electronic devices that are capable of capturing live action besides video cameras. Like cell phones. And so-called "still" digital cameras.

Are CFD officials willing to confiscate every cell phone or to wade into a rodeo crowd to snatch one from a fan who refuses to obey the rules? Is it going to require some kind of check-in, similar to a hat check window? And what happens when CFD loses those phones or cameras?

No, that is just plain silly. And if CFD officials don't know it now, we predict they will by the end of the day on July 18 -- the date of this year's first rodeo session.

Almost as silly is CFD's lame excuse for putting this policy in place: to protect images of its rodeo from distribution. General Chairman Charlie West likens it to the policies of the National Collegiate Athletics Association and other venues.

Yet CFD is not even the owner of the commercial footage from its event: The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is. And the PRCA is so unconcerned about fans taking videos that it allows each venue to set its own policies.

No, what this really is all about is animal rights groups like SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), which has been after Frontier Days the past several years for alleged animal abuse. SHARK caught CFD officials -- on video -- using shocking devices inappropriately, causing Frontier Days to alter its policies. SHARK also wants an end to events that jerk animals to the ground and to the wild horse race.

Apparently CFD is tired of having to deal with SHARK, and to be honest so are we as a newspaper (these people send out press release after press release, and most of them are a waste of time and paper). But rather than try to hide what it is doing, CFD would be wiser to clean up its act.

If animals are being harmed during Frontier Days rodeo events, then more protections should be put into place. And if there is no abuse, then SHARK will have nothing to show, and CFD can get on with the business of defending its rodeo in the court of public opinion.

But ducking under a cloak of secrecy does little except to cause people to wonder what CFD is hiding. It also sends groups like SHARK underground. But it will not stop the issuance of videos by this and other animal rights groups.

CFD should jettison this unenforceable policy. When a cowpoke shoots himself in the foot, he doesn't do it again and again. Yet Frontier Days is headed down that path. This new rule won't stop SHARK, but it will make plenty of fans so unhappy that they won't come back again.

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