Gov. Rick Perry knows his rodeo.
The son of a West Texas rancher, he’s a native of the small community of Paint Creek in Haskell County. He grew up near Stamford, which hosts the renowned Texas Cowboy Reunion Rodeo around July 4.
With that type of background, it comes natural for Texas’ governor to talk about riding and roping. And he did just that on March 2 at RFD-TVs The American at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
“These men and women are as good of athletes as you find playing [pro football] here on Sunday,” Perry said. “The steer wrestlers probably could fill a Dallas Cowboys offensive line slot. The bull riders probably could be a defensive back or a linebacker. The calf ropers probably could play quarterback.”
Perry said rodeo competitors command respect for their athleticism.
“They train. They’re disciplined,” he said.
Rodeo is a Texas trademark. Perry said the Lone Star State stands out in terms of creating jobs and technology exports and that the rodeo industry is an integral part of Texas’ profile as a big business state.
“I often tell people that we’re everything from cow chips to microchips,” Perry said “We cover the whole watershed, so to speak. Rodeo is big business, and when you think about big business, you think about Texas.”
The American was big business. The inaugural all-star pro rodeo drew athletes such as 19-time Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world all-around champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur and offered competitors $2 million, the highest payout for a one-day, single-performance rodeo.
It was the brainchild of Randy Bernard, who served as chief executive officer of the Professional Bull Riders from 1995 until 2010 and currently serves as CEO of RFD-TV.
Perry, a former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, praised RFD-TV for organizing The American, which drew an attendance of about 35,000.
Perry met with PRCA officials in January when Dallas, Orlando and Las Vegas were on the short list to host the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from 2015 through 2024. Though Las Vegas won, Perry said the success of The American is ample proof that Texas can be a great host.
“We ain’t given up on that yet,” Perry said. “I think that this could be proof to the National Finals guys that this is a place that they want to come. They may have outgrown Vegas. That could be a conversation worth having.”
Champion riding tough
Richmond Champion, a Tarleton student who earned $1.1 million at The American after winning the bareback riding title, qualified for the March 19-20 semifinals at the Houston Livestock Show Rodeo.
Lisa Lockhart, The American’s barrel racing winner ($100,000), also advanced to the Houston semis.
Mauney takes Phoenix
Defending PBR world champion J.B. Mauney, who earned $100,000 for winning bull riding at The American, also pocketed $36,600 after winning last weekend’s tour stop in Phoenix.
He’s ranked No. 3 in the Built Ford Tough Series world standings with 4,010.87 points. Guilherme Marchi is No. 1 with 4,417.43, and Decatur’s Mike Lee is No. 2 with 4,347.06.