Rodeo occupies a unique position in modern sports, having developed from an American culture that is rapidly changing. Rodeo is a window into the past while at the same time offers a unique and fully modern sport with an exciting and interesting atmosphere. Learn about the history of rodeo through the early years of its development.
Be sure to read the first and second part of this feature, Rodeo History: The Early Years, and Rodeo History: Early Organizations.
The Modern Era (1960s - Now):
In the modern era, rodeo has continued to grow from its roots as a working ranch competition to a huge national sport. With the continued success, rodeo has seen growth in the number of associations at regional and state levels. Rodeo has also established itself at the high school and college level. There is even an association for younger children known as the National Little Britches Rodeo Association.
In 1975 the Rodeo Cowboys Association became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or PRCA, the largest sanctioning body of rodeo in the United States and Canada. The National Finals Rodeo originally held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and now in Las Vegas, Nevada is the culmination of the PRCAs rodeo year. The business of rodeo is now as legitimate as any other national sport, and the PRCA has achieved a status on par with the NFL or NBA. Rodeo not only offers a chance to compete, it also offers a way of life that the other less historied sports can't.
Rodeos Lasting Traditions
There is no doubt that rodeo will continue through the 21st century. Whether we see continued growth or leveling off remains up to us, our ability to change while remaining true to the spirit of rodeo will be a challenging obstacle to face. As we move further away from the agrarian / livestock culture that dominated our early history, the importance of rodeo will undoubtedly increase. Despite repeated attempts to destroy rodeo from severely misguided groups, rodeo will continue on where there remains a love of animals, competition, excitement, and the western experience. The individual nature of rodeo competition which offers a chance to rely on ones own ability to succeed is something that is grossly lacking in our modern culture.
Our duty as rodeo fans and participants is to learn all we can about the valuable history of our rodeo traditions in order to better defend it from those who wish to see it gone. It has been said, if you don't know where you come from you cant know where you're going. Where am I going? To a Rodeo!