The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA)
, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is the largest and oldest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world. The recognized leader in professional rodeo, the PRCA is committed to maintaining the highest standards in the industry in every area, from improving working conditions for contestants and monitoring livestock welfare to boosting entertainment value and promoting sponsors. The PRCA also proudly supports youth rodeo with educational camps and financial assistance to young standouts preparing to enter the professional ranks, as well as supporting allied organizations such as Tough Enough to Wear Pink, Miss Rodeo America, the American Quarter Horse Association and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Annually, the PRCA sanctions about 600 of the most elite multiple-event rodeos on the continent, in 37 states and three Canadian provinces – the cream of the crop among thousands of rodeo-related events that take place each year in North America. As a membership-driven organization, the PRCA works to ensure that every event it sanctions is managed with fairness and competence and that the livestock used is healthy and cared for to the highest standards. Here are some key facts about participants in ProRodeo and the PRCA.
Fans. ProRodeo attracts about 30 million fans, many of whom attend PRCA-sanctioned rodeos around the country annually. According to the Sports Business Daily, rodeo is seventh in overall attendance for major sporting events, ahead of golf and tennis. Fans can follow professional rodeo all year long through the PRCA’s television coverage on Great American Country and the Pursuit channel, the PRCA’s ProRodeo Sports News and ProRodeo.com as well as other rodeo-related media outlets.
Competition. Unlike most other professional sports, where contestants are paid salaries regardless of how well they do at a particular competition, cowboys generally pay to enter each rodeo. If they place high enough to win money, they probably make a profit, but if they don’t, they’ve actually lost their entry fee and any travel expenses, so every entry is a gamble pitting the chance for loss and physical injury against the chance for financial windfalls and athletic glory. Also unlike most sanctioned professional sports, the hundreds of “playing fields” – rodeo arenas – of PRCA-sanctioned rodeos vary widely by locale. The size, shape, perimeter and roof/open top of an arena, as well as the chute configuration, greatly affect times for timed events and, to a lesser extent, scores for roughstock events. The differences are so significant that some timed-event cowboys own different horses for different types of arenas. For that reason, the most fair way to measure cowboys’ success in competition across the varied settings is by earnings. The total payout at PRCA rodeos in 2010 was $39,870,303 – a $2 million increase from 2009.