It has been an interesting year in the history of rodeo. Many changes have happened in the sport from failed deals, resignations, closures, to the dissolution of long-term partnerships. The sport of rodeo is in a unique position at this point in its history, where change is necessary, but how much and to what extent is anyones guess.
The truth is that rodeo remains one of the last honest contests in sport where passion determines success rather than a potential multi-million dollar deal. These athletes must compete to survive; they cannot sit on the sidelines and collect a paycheck. This sets our sport apart from most others and it is a noble distinction.
However, the world does change and as we move into the future we must not become complacent or turn a blind eye to how we can grow and make changes that will benefit rodeos fans and competitors.
Of all the many changes, the biggest and brightest change to hit the sport has come from Canada and will happen at the world-famous rodeo known as the Calgary Stampede.
2005 is the last year that the PRCA will sanction CPRA rodeos, and the CPRA has decided to strike out on their own. This ends a decades long agreement between two noble institutions of rodeo. Seemingly stuck in the middle was the Calgary Stampede.
Calgary has been a staple of Canadian rodeo for almost 100 years and gaining entry represents a level of achievement that every professional rodeo competitor strives to reach on both sides of the border. In deciding this delicate issue the folks in charge of the Stampede have made a decision and responded to their dilemma in an interesting and ingenious way.
Note: In March of 2006, the CPRA and PRCA reconciled and are working to reach a new deal.
The Calgary Stampede will become an invitation-only, stand-alone event; not sanctioned by either rodeo association. The end result has made the Calgary Stampede an innovative model for future rodeo events.
Changes coming to the 2006 Calgary Stampede include an increase in prize money and multiple changes to the historic rodeo itself.
Some of the innovations of the "new" Calgary Stampede are:
- Prize money will rise to 1.6 million dollars total and Calgary Final Showdown money will double from $50,000 to $100,000 for first (2nd earns $25,000, 3rd- $15,000, and 4th- $10,000). This makes Calgary the highest single-day earnings in all of rodeo.
- Entries will change to invitation-only and includes six standard events; bareback, steer wrestling, tie-down, saddle bronc, barrel racing, and bull riding*. Team roping is not included which is a reason for the PRCA not sanctioning the Stampede. In 2006 team roping becomes a mandatory event at all PRCA rodeos.
- Invitations will be sent to the top 5 contestants from the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the top 10 in the world standings from the PRCA. Five entries will be selected by committee which could include past champions or any competitor that they deem worthy of a shot at Calgary money.
(*Bull riders will be selected from the CPRA, PRCA, and the PBR.)
- A major change will also come in the rodeos format. The 20 invited competitors in each event will split into 2 pools of 10. Each group will be featured for 4 days of the 10 day rodeo. Each day will pay out $4,000.
- The top 4 from each group advance to a Championship Round on Sunday and (now this is where it gets interesting) the remaining six competitors who didn't qualify move to a Wild Card Round on Saturday where the top two move on to the Championship Round as well. These rounds are sudden death and no average will be used.
The final 10 competitors left then battle for the 4 paying spots in the Final Showdown Round on Sunday.
A competitor could potentially make $116,000 with a sweep of all the rounds and the finals. This is huge payout!
- This next change is something phenomenal. The Calgary Stampede will have no entry fee, will give each competitor $1,000 dollars toward travel expenses, and health insurance is covered.
What this rodeo has done is moved the bar on what is to be expected at a major, world-class event. If these changes are truly implemented, it should meet and surpass both the competitor and fan expectations. The Calgary Stampede has moved from one of the best to THE BEST rodeo in the world.