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PBR celebrates 25th season

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, August 15, 2018
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The Professional Bull Riders’ top tier tour stopped in Tulsa over the weekend.

The world’s leading pro bull riding organization has been celebrating its silver anniversary throughout 2018. Since its humble inaugural season in 1994, the PBR has capitalized on it becoming a prosperous stand-alone sport. Fans can watch the PBR on weekends on the CBS Sports Network. For the 16th consecutive year, the PBR world champion will receive a $1 million bonus on the final day of the World Finals in Las Vegas, which is scheduled for Nov. 7-11 at T-Mobile Arena.

Fans are drawn to bull riding for the same reason they’re attracted to NASCAR. It’s an easy-to-follow sport with an element of danger.

“It’s the world’s most dangerous and exciting sport wrapped in a rock concert,” said Sean Gleason, the PBR’s chief executive officer. “And it’s just great family entertainment. We pack it in and you’re going to buy the whole seat, but you’re going to only use the front edge of it because you’re not going to be able to sit back and relax because it’s such an intense experience when you’re in the building.”

When the PBR was in Tulsa last weekend, the tour stopped in an area of the country where there are an abundance of cowboy sports fans. But the PBR also draws great crowds in markets with a low percentage of the population that grew up around the western lifestyle.

“We’ve had to work at it pretty hard over 25 years to really build the base,” Gleason said. “For example, this was our 12th year at Madison Square Garden [in January], and it took a number of years to really break through and get people to come out and give this sport a try and see if they enjoy it. We win our fans one at a time, and so over time, we’ve built a great audience.”

Gleason said the PBR thrives because organizers can conduct a pro bull riding show pretty much anywhere.

“We’re not bound by a track like NASCAR or even rodeo grounds like in San Antonio and Houston where your fans have to come to the same location year in and year out,” Gleason said. “We have a sport that can travel to almost any arena in the country. I think that’s one of the big reasons we’ve been able to build a national following because we can do Portland and Bangor, Maine, Anaheim, Calif., Tacoma, and then go to Florida and anywhere in between. We’ve bucked bulls in Times Square, we’ve bucked them at Huntington Beach [Calif.], and we’ve bucked them at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. We can pretty much buck bulls anywhere we want.”

At Tulsa, Jose Vitor Leme, a Brazilian who lives in Decatur, clinched the title after turning a score of 90.5 on Bottoms Up during the final round Sunday. He earned $39,967.

Fabiano Vieira, another Brazilian who lives in Decatur, finished second and earned $16,447.

After clinching the Tulsa title, Leme is ranked third in the world title race with 2,580 points, 370 behind Kaique Pacheco who has 2,950. Pacheco is a Brazilian who lives in Decatur.

Guilherme Marchi, the 2008 world champion, announced he will retire at the end of the 2018 World Finals. Marchi, another Brazilian who is from Decatur, is on pace to qualify for the 2018 PBR World Finals, which would put Marchi in a tie with 2004 world champion Mike Lee of Alvord for the most finals appearances, 15.

PRCA UPDATE

Defending world all-around champion Tuf Cooper of Decatur earned $1,003 after finishing fourth in the steer roping first round with a time of 11.9 seconds at Lea County Fair and PRCA Rodeo in Lovington, N.M.

Cooper also pocketed $1,699 after tying for first in the tie-down roping second round at the Aug. 8-11 Farm City Pro Rodeo in Hermiston, Ore., with an 8.3. Cooper earned $4,907 (Canadian) for finishing second at the Aug. 3-6 Strathmore Stampede in Strathmore, Alberta.

Twenty-three time world champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur, pocketed $1,648 after winning the steer roping second round at the Lovington rodeo with an 8.3. Brazile also won the tie-down roping second round at the Aug. 8-11 Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo in Sikeston, Mo., with a 7.7 and pocketed $1,625.

Brazile is ranked second in the PRCA’s world all-around title race. Cooper leads the world all-around title race and the steer roping.

Clint Cooper, a five-time NFR qualifier from Decatur, earned $3,768 at the Sikeston rodeo after winning the first round with an 8.3 and finishing second in the average with an 18.1 on two runs.

CUTTING HORSE UPDATE

On the National Cutting Horse Association circuit, the world’s top aged event competitors are in Amarillo to compete in the West Texas Futurity. Matt Miller and Carolina Reyn and Beau Galyean and Rolz Royce tied for first in the 4-year-old open division final round Sunday. Each rider turned in a 225.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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