SUNDAY: CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1/9/11
On Sunday, the Championship Round, the PBR pissed off us Early Entry people right away: no daily sheets with the lineup of who’s riding and who’s bucking. The explanation, from a PBR official I corralled in the stairwell: “We ran out.”
Um, how do you run out of something on the second night of an event when you know you have a third day coming up? Do you not know how many seats you sold? Not to mention that the Sunday sheet is different from the Saturday sheet, so how could you have run out of it? All you need is ONE sheet─ send someone out to one of the thousand copy shops in Manhattan to get it photocopied. Or was this a ploy to force us to buy $20 glossy program books?
Anyway, Early Entry amounted to squat on Sunday, unless I wanted to get on line for Aaron Roy’s autograph. I didn’t. I don’t collect autographs.
At the Ariat table, you could enter a drawing to win a pair of boots. On the tab: a display of boots, male and female, in various styles. Where are the prices listed? In the saleswoman’s head— sort of. Every time I asked the price on a boot, a lot of “Ummm,” squinting, and wheel-turning went on, then she’d quote something that ended in “9” and had a question mark following it. So I figured, Well, try on the pairs I like, then decide if I want to spend the dough. Did they have my size? “No, we only have size 7 left boots. The ones on the table.” Uhh, do you not want to sell boots?
Don’t know if this one is the Garden’s fault, or part of the way scary Ticketmaster works:
My $60+ ticket on Sunday (bought online through Ticketmaster) was in a worse section than the half-price ($30) ticket I picked up at the box office on Saturday night (with no extra charges).
AND IN THE CENTER RING…
Flint in long pants(??). Granted, they were Uncle Sam style, but still… Later he changed into white shorts and knee socks. Who dressed him??
He’s been well-cued by the PBR bosses; his first rap was a shrewd pitch via a show of applause, to find out who was there on both Saturday night and Sunday: “We know the real fans come out for Championship Sunday; you don’t just come out for the Saturday night party.” Voilà: next year’s ticket sales double in a flash. They hope. Later on he also did an applause meter survey of who attended the event last year. I’m glad to report that there were a lot of us repeat offenders.
Flint was a barrel of laughs on Sunday, starting with describing the human stars of the PBR as “40 skinny-butted cowboys.” Truer words were never spoken. But he was outdone by the Fan of the Night─ Sabrina, an African American woman bearing a sign bordered by blinking Christmas lights: “Black Women ♥ Flint.” Flint couldn’t believe his eyes. “Does that sign say what I think it says?” He climbed over the rail to look closer. “I’ve never seen that before!” She got a PBR buckle.
Some women done lost their minds over him. One woman told him on Saturday night, “We need to clone you so I can have one of my own.” Not me─ but I want a Flint Workout Video I can dance to!
While one of the announcers was promoting online participation in Exclusive Genetics, Flint was Tweeting from the arena. I’m just sayin’…
I know this is stupid, but I laughed my head off at him performing the woodchuck TV commercial. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you, but he did it extremely well.
In the crowd sing-along, he changed the lyrics to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” from “I’m a cowboy” to “I’m a clown boy.” Once again, the New Yorkers knew all the words to every song; even Ty was singing along to that “small town girl” Journey tune. (I am so not a big Journey fan.)
There were a few variations in Flint’s halftime entertainment: pulling down his shorts to dance to a hip-hop number (not all the way just thug-style), then jitterbugging to a 1940s tune.
He bragged about eating food from street vendors all weekend (if you knew what was in that food and in those carts, you’d never do it), then suddenly collapsed on the ground, protesting, “I’m fine! I can eat anything! I’m a heart attack survivor! I’m on Lipitor!”
His retort to the ringside guys who teased him about being paid to shave his legs and wear makeup: “I know why you have a mic and I don’t─ ‘cause you’re not good enough to do what I do!”
I’m sure I screamed louder than anyone else in the arena when Ben Jones rode Voodoo Child for 91 points. Nobody deserved that dance on the Shark Cage more. And his 87.25 ride on Buffalo Hump was more like a 10-second ride. That Happy Dance is just contagious─ everyone in the Garden was grinning ear-to-ear along with the Toothless Wonder.
Mellow Yellow Jacket was rocking out in the chute, but Valdiron de Oliveira conquered him for 91.50 points. Maybe the judges were compensating for the times they underrated him, though I think Voodoo Child is a more difficult ride. Valdiron was breathless and thirsty afterward, but 5 for 5, and “So happy─ first event I win!”
The pre-show clip of riders talking about injuries─ didja know all of Ryan McConnel’s front teeth are fake?─ was a great idea, but I winced at J.B.’s quote: “My father told me, ‘Unless both legs are broke, you get up and walk out of that arena!’” Strange, though: Apparently only Americans get hurt. No Brazilians, Canadians, Australians, or Mexicans were in the clip. Tacky, tacky, PBR boys.
Renato’s trip on Bongo was an example of PBR insanity. The bull fell down, Renato kept riding, the clock stopped, and he scored 84.50. This time he waited on the backflip until his bull was far enough away. But oops! Somebody let another bull into the arena before Bongo left. That’s a first─ at least, in my experience. Then Renato was given a re-ride option on Highway 12. Huh??
After J.B.’s 88.50 ride on Big Tex, he got his strut back, and with good reason. That was a great ride on a great bull.
A blessed nonverbal moment from the announcers!!! while Cody Nance wrapped.
BULLS BEHAVING MADLY (AND I LOVED IT):
A lot of the bulls were sticking to the area immediately to the right of the chutes, seemingly bucking just for the high rollers. This is distressing to those of us who didn’t pay hundreds of bucks for a seat. Somebody better have a word with the livestock.
However, a lot of the bulls also put extra zest into their post-ride antics, and the crowd was applauding; don’t know if any of this made it onto the broadcast. I’m Back, a clone of Panhandle Slim, tossed off Harve Stewart, then delivered a rambunctious, protracted exit. He was so annoyed at having to leave the spotlight that he charged the guy behind the gate who was holding it open for him. Josh Koschel’s bull (either Slim’s Ghost or RFD-TV) bucked him off and kept spinning until he heard the buzzer─ now there’s a bull who knows his job! On his way out, he gave one last kick that clearly meant, “So there!” (Or should I say, “made a statement”? See NITWITTICISMS below.)
Aaron Roy’s bull (name not announced) dumped him, then did his party tricks for the people in the expensive seats. Congo, after Alves rode him for 86.25, was so ticked off, he charged two of the three bullfighters. Another ham: Little Napoleon, after dumping Ross Coleman, changed his mind about exiting and gave the crowd a floor show. Cody Lambert thinks Bring It is a star, and I agree. After giving Hupp an 89.25 score, the bull took a tour all the way to the opposite end of the arena, flaunting his stuff in front of the VIP area.
Hot tip: Flip Side hasn’t yet been ridden in 21 outs. Major League material!
CODY NANCE FASHION ALERT:
The ever-suave blue-eyed boy was sporting a sky-blue neckerchief to match. See photo!
IMHO Oh, who am I kidding? IMO:
- I think Cody Nance was fouled; Austin Nights was moving alongside the gates, but the judges didn’t see it. Or ignored it; it’s hard to tell which nowadays.
- I agree with Ty Murray: Silvano Alves is a threat for the World Championship title.
- Out of Control, Wesley Laurenco’s bull, shot out of the gate in a wildly explosive mid-air move, completing Wesley’s unfortunate shut-out this weekend. He was 3rd in Las Vegas; what’s wrong?
- After Paolo Lima’s 90-point trip on Smackdown, one of the announcers proclaimed, “There’s not enough hype around Lima.” Much as I hate the “hype” idea, Lima sure doesn’t get all the attention he deserves. I guess he needs a gimmick.
Michael Manes was scored only 84.25 for a ride on Comanche Moon that everyone in the arena knew deserved more; we all booed the score.
Austin Meier and Eskimo Joe produced only a 70, and Austin was offered a re-ride (on Hot Diggity Damn) which he didn’t take─ why?? I think physically he was still beat up from being chucked into the chute the night before.
Craig The Bummer, inside the riders’ heads (apparently, all of them): “He wants to make a statement.” “Douglas Duncan made a big statement in Round #1.” “It is statement time [re Cody Campbell on Wild and Out].” “A hard statement to make [re Jordan Hupp and Bring It].” And what exactly would that statement be, Hummer?
The announcers started getting inside the bulls’ heads, too. As Minor Incident (previously ridden only by J.B.) was giving Dustin Elliott a hard time in the chute, squatting down, they were discussing whether the bulls were deliberately messing with the riders, trying to unnerve them before the ride. Yeah, I’m sure Bushwacker strategizes like hell before he goes out and humiliates people.
AND HOW ABOUT THOSE BULLFIGHTERS, FOLKS:
Newbie Jesse Byrne looks about 12, but got married the week before the New York event. Frank Newsom always manages to get the rider’s hat back to him no matter how far across the arena he is. According to Flint, “Frank is the Mark Sanchez of hat throwers.”
Pistol Robinson sure has some New York fans. A whole row had Pistol signs and tee shirts.
Brendon Clark tried out his new Brazilian style bull rope on Bando’s Wild and Wreckless, but it popped out of his hands. (American ropes do, too.)
Why is Austin Meier suddenly being billed as “the Bad Boy from Oklahoma?” What did he do? I think it’s just another “branding” gimmick (the Rock Star Cowboy, the Dancing Australian, the Cherokee Kid, etc.).
GRIPE SESSION: I’m sick of…
Announcers constantly telling us the event is exciting, trying to artificially pump us up. We know excitement, okay? Not every bull riding fan is stupid and must be told what to think. I think every PBR event is exciting. (Except the 2010 Worcester Invitational, where no one made the buzzer, so the championship round consisted of whoever rode the longest.)
The announcers’ obvious favoritism. In Clint Adkins’ introductory spiel about who would be riding, he emphasized certain names and sounded dismissive of others. Naturally J.B. Mauney was in the first category. I think J.B.’s great, but that’s no reason to diss other riders.
The media swarming all over the Americans at the expense of the Brazilians. Valdiron won Saturday night, but after the event J.B. was surrounded by reporters (which meant nobody got autographs or photos), and Valdiron wasn’t visible. If he wasn’t equally surrounded by media attention, it’s because the PBR is too dumb to think of hiring a translator.
Announcers referring to anyone who’d ever won in Las Vegas as “World Champion,” e.g., “World Champion Kody Lostroh,” without saying when. Anyone new to the sport or not well-versed in it must’ve been totally confused as to how many World Champs were riding in NYC. If you’re trying to appeal to new audiences, guys, make it easier for them.
Interminable intermissions. Flint can’t be expected to carry it all, no matter how “on” he is. Case in point: he did his step dancing on top of the Shark Cage, then put his backfield in motion, and after a few minutes of booty-rotating, said what we were all thinking: “Any time now, guys!”
Secret drafts: the Saturday night draft took place downstairs below decks, not in front of fans.
Hearing “The Star Spangled Banner” become “The Star Mangled Banner.” I never understood why it’s sung at sports events in the first place, and then Sunday had another inexplicable choice of chanteuse: Jill Gioia, whose official web site modestly proclaims her “Today’s monarch of female vocalists.” (Get out the garrote, Aretha!) She hit some real screechy parts (“and the land of the free”) and tended to use a warbly vibrato. Yet, true to Pavlov’s theory, people reacted at the prescribed spot: “free.” It’s a trick, folks: ask anyone who understands music theory and the physiological effects of sound. An ascending passage generates excitement, a descending passage brings you down. If you sang in gobbledygook and hit those same notes, most people’s physiological response will be elevated.
- Why were there so many right-hand deliveries?
- Just exactly what do you mean by “rank,” guys? In talking about Smackdown, the announcers said, “This bull was extremely rank last night and he’s gonna be rank again today.” Look, either it’s a rank bull or it isn’t. It’s not an outfit he changes in and out of.
- Why weren’t the riders trading places on the Shark Cage like they used to do?
- Why was there no formal award to the winner at the end of the weekend? The Championship Round took place, the winner was declared, and the thing just fizzled out.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES (AND MUCH GNASHING OF TEETH):
The glacial pace of scores coming in was appalling. McKennon Wimberly’s bull, RMEF Elk Country, caught some air and had serious kick; we didn’t get the score (86.25) or the bull’s name until after L.J. Jenkins rode his bull for an 88. While Shane Proctor’s ride was underway, the screen still showed Elton Cide’s information, and the announcers didn’t say the bull’s name. After another delay, Proctor’s 87.25 score arrived. For Douglas Duncan’s trip on RMEF Bugle, no information was shown. The score for Mike Lee’s ride on Cracker Jack wasn’t announced, then was delayed before it appeared. Jody Newberry rode Boot Daddy, his score wasn’t announced, and then was delayed before being shown on screen. New papa Colby Yates’ 85.50 wasn’t shown. No info about Luke Snyder’s bull was on screen. The next ride shouldn’t start until the score for the current ride is given by the announcers and shown on screen.
The jumbo screens kept the rider’s name and hometown on through the ride, then showed the bull’s name, instead of having both names on screen throughout. Half the time, the announcers didn’t say the bull’s name, and since we had no daily breakdown sheets, if you didn’t happen to glance at the screen at exactly the right second, you didn’t get the name.
MORE OF THAT CLOCK/BUZZER TIME WARP CRAP:
For Cody Campbell’s ride on RFD-TV (88.25), the clock displayed 8 seconds noticeably sooner than the buzzer kicked in. Dustin Elliott scored 81.25 on Clam Digger; not a great bull performance, the clock said 8 seconds, but Dustin was on the ground at the buzzer. Ned Cross rode Fully Loaded for 7.99 seconds, so naturally he pushed the button. Replay showed the tail of the bull rope in his hand, but he hit the ground at 7.8. This clock/buzzer dysfunction is the bane of my existence. Well, the bane of my bull riding watching, anyway.
The new format may be controversial, but I had no problem with it: 10 riders in a short-go round before the Championship Round, and an extra set of 5 short-go bulls. On Saturday night, the top riders got to bid on a bonus bull.
Wrangler Julian Marino had one of the busiest nights of his career on Saturday; the bulls were flashing all kinds of end-zone moves. I don’t know how much of this was caught on camera, but the livestock was downright hamming it up. Not the hilarious twin Reynolds Wrap bull busts sticking out of the chutes, though, which Flint Rasmussen felt obliged to inform the New Yorkers weren’t real bulls.
• Valdiron’s spectacular 92.25 trip on Super Duty, who exploded out of the gate, was only the second time in 60 outs that bull’s been ridden, and as far as I’m concerned, that bull’s name is still Major Payne.
• Ben Jones was on fire, taking care of Segs The Juice (87) and dancing on the Shark Cage. According to Flint, in a couple of months, Ben will be 32, “And that’s like 102 in bull rider years.”
• Mauney Minions, rejoice! His ride on Clam Digger ended in an involuntary flying dismount as the bull tossed him forward over his head, but he scored 88.75. He also conquered Highway 12 with an 88.50. This is very encouraging, J.B.!
• Showing a video clip about Renato was a good idea, in case there are any sour grapes people left. His trip on Chicken on a Chain was named one of the top 6 rides of all time. Can’t remember which rider said this on camera: “He comes from having nothing, and he won two trucks last year.”
JUDGING AND TIMING ISSUES:
I may be imagining this, but it seemed to me the judges were being a bit more sensible about granting re-rides. L.J. Jenkins was fouled in the chute by Fully Loaded (no, not the way you’re thinking), and was given a re-ride─ a successful one: he scored 86 on Pushing Cotton. Ryan McConnel got a re-ride as a result of his outrageous outing with Bootlegger─ with good reason. The bull fell, bounced, but Ryan kept riding.
However, the scoring still had its incomprehensible moments. Soulja Boy had a bizarre low-key trip, and even came to a full stop, so how did Pistol Robinson get a score, let alone an 86.25? Jordan Hupp did a miraculous job of staying on Molalla Jack; he was out of position at least twice, and pulled himself up straight, muscling through the ride for 80.25. I dunno; I think if a guy makes amazing moves like that, he should get extra points.
AND HOW ARE WE TREATING THE BRAZILIANS THESE DAYS, FOLKS?
Valdiron got a standing ovation for his ride on Flashpoint…and an 89.75. Seems to me the judges begrudged him a 90-point score, which this ride deserved.
Timers are still an aggravating issue. More of that clock/buzzer anomaly crap: Silvano Alves rode Ludacris, the clock said for 8 seconds, but the buzzer didn’t sound, and Alves got an 80.5. In fact, the buzzer was asleep at the switch several times. (couldn’t resist) The judges and in-arena announcers were also functioning on delay: some scores came in so late that two rides took place in the meantime: Dustin Elliott stayed on Disco Baby, moving with him despite the bull’s lowdown lunges, and the score (86.50) wasn’t reported; after Boot Daddy bucked off Travis Briscoe and Hot Diggity bucked off Kasey Hayes, Dustin’s score was shown on the leaderboard. Douglas Duncan, pumped after his Friday night victory, turned in a smashing 91-point ride on Carrillo Cartel─ but the score arrived after the next two rides. Bates and Adkins never even announced Cody Campbell’s score on Comet’s Surprise.
TV VS. LIVE:
Brendon Clark’s 85.50 ride on Evil Doer got the crowd psyched. Too bad those of us in the arena only saw Leah Garcia interviewing him on screen, but didn’t get to hear it. The big in-arena screens should also be showing us what’s happening in the chutes, not always focused on Flint dancing.
Speaking of “Commander Cooper,” the rest of the world may not know the “secret” Flint announced, but now they will: New York is “the funnest place we go to all year.” Take that, Tidioute.
Buddy the Bull was the hit of the night: a man half-covered by an inflated plastic bull. Flint was beside himself. “How can you not give a Fan of the Night award to a guy who comes dressed like a bull?!” Marino roped the guy, then Flint interviewed him, interjecting to the audience, “If I was a kid, I’d be crying right now.” Buddy responded by trying to hump Flint, then waltzed with him. Flint asked him where he was from; we couldn’t hear the response, but Flint clarified it for everyone: “You can’t say the word in the middle! New York – City.”
• RMEF Bugle tossing Wesley Lourenco, and nearly tossing one of the announcers. Right after his debut, I got used to seeing Wesley score big, and this was a shock.
• Poor Austin Meier─ once again matched with the unridden Austin Nights (it’s not funny anymore, Mr. Lambert). This time Austin got tossed back into the chute, and came staggering out to Sports Medicine. Not good.
• Firestorm hadn’t been ridden in two seasons, and Robson Aragao (subbing for Chris Shivers) was well on his way to changing that, but the bull’s sudden direction change threw him at 7.9 seconds. Bad enough, but then Firestorm stomped his right calf.
Mike Lee and Sleeper
Colby Yates and Buffalo Hump
Luke Snyder and Road Daddy
Ned Cross and Big Stuff
Douglas Duncan (Friday night’s winner) and Wild and Out
• I’m putting this one in the Aggravations category because I’m a former rock critic who knows her oats: Flint was taking the audience on a sonic tour of the decades, dancing to music from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s…but somebody cued up the wrong music, mixing up the ‘50s and ‘60s, so that “Rock Around the Clock” ended up representing the ‘60s, and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was supposed to be a ‘50s number. Arrgghh!
• Rock Star hires bimbos to hold up a “90-Point Club” sign, as if we’re all too stupid to know when someone’s scored 90 points, even with all the lights, confetti, and streamers. Please, guys, don’t cheese up the PBR until it’s a joke!
BULL HIGHLIGHTS: I hope you TV viewers got a chance to see some of this stuff!
After getting rid of Stormy Wing, RMEF Elk Country returned for an encore just when you thought he was offstage. Amy’s Pet gave Harve Stewart an 87, then toured the stadium, dodging Marino’s rope with a grand head fake. Cracker Jack dumped Cody Nance, then threatened to butt someone─ anyone─ on the way out. He was lookin’ for someone to make his day. Jordan Hupp went flying, thanks to I’m Back, a clone of Panhandle Slim, who kept on bucking, took a trip to the other end of the arena and back, then turned again, bucking and fighting the wrangler’s rope, and had to be dragged out. Shaky Waters came back gunning for Renato where he’d dumped him at 7.8 seconds.
Bongo’s big lunges licked Canadian PBR champ Aaron Roy, then the bull faced off with the Dickies boys, performed all the way across the arena, and shrugged off Marino’s lasso. This boy was not going to leave the limelight; he ran off with the rope, tossing his head, refusing to go. When he finally was re-roped and towed toward the exit, he dug in his heels and dragged his feet like a stubborn kid who doesn’t want to go to bed. It took all four guys to get him out of the arena. Mr. Slim, another clone of Panhandle Slim, gave Ben Jones a 90.25 ride, let him do his dance, then danced right at Ben.
Anchor Man, Skeeter Kingsolver’s bull, faced down all the bull fighters before he left. The message couldn’t have been clearer if he’d had a comic book talk bubble over his head: You wanna piece o’ me?? Jason O’Hearn went down near the wall, courtesy of Bando’s Wild and Wreckless, who went after him, headbutted him in the back, and would’ve done more if Shorty Gorham hadn’t jumped to it. In the chute, Lincoln Electric’s Bring It was squatting, rocking, and sitting down under Dustin Elliott. The announcers debated as to whether the bull was deliberately trying to rattle him. Jeez, now they’re getting inside the bull’s head!
AND NOW A WORD ABOUT FLINT:
Never thought I’d say this, but Flint’s volume actually needed turning up. Saturday and Sunday (the two days I was there), he was in rare form. I don’t think I heard one offensive remark, and he cracked me up more than a few times. Saturday night’s Harlem Globetrotters-style outfit helped, too. However, when he has to fill enormous stretches of time during commercial breaks, Flint sometimes loses his mind. This time he was babbling with Bates and Adkins about Broadway shows to see while he’s in town. Who cares??? This is where the PBR ought to show more video clips on the big screens instead.
You folks at home probably missed most of this:
Flint demonstrating what he’d picked up in New York this weekend: how to eat a “slice” (of pizza) and cross the street dodging taxis at the same time. Flint the GoGo boy rocking out to “Mony Mony,” with his back field seriously in motion. Flint vaulting into the VIP area opposite the chutes to make some VIPs dance, showing off his Michael Jackson moonwalk and patented hat toss, and conducting the crowd in a sing-along on “Don’t Stop Believing.” When he ran out of lyrics, they took over─ and sounded damn good. The audience really showed their chops when he sang the call and response part of “Shout” and got different sections of the crowd to compete, à la Springsteen. One thing about New York audiences: we know the words to all the songs. (Well, okay, I had no clue about a Journey song, but that’s because I have refined taste in rock.) BTW, Flint’s singing has gotten better and better.
A shining moment was his Jeggings jag. After a long explanation of what Jeggings are, he climbed under the Shark Cage to change into a snug blue pair, and emerged to show off his legs and shake his booty to “Feel Like a Woman” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”
During Flint’s musical trip through the decades, though, I was reminded of what sucked about the ‘70s: hustle music. And the ‘80s: Wham. The ‘90s: head-banging metal rap. And the ‘00s: bland, fake “r&b.” He sure did justice to the head-flinging, though. After an intense minute of that, he yelled, “That hurts! That’s why the ‘90s people are so messed up!”
• Ned Cross’s scary landing on the side of his neck, courtesy of Big Stuff, a bull that bucked him off twice last year.
• Ryan Dirteater, newly returned to the BFTS, got bucked off Big Guns and ran really fast to get away from this bad-news bull. Visions of his three horrifying wrecks danced in my head.
Somebody has to tell Ryan McConnel that ever since he ditched the black and red hat, he hasn’t been riding up to his old standard. He switched to what looked like a Panama straw hat, which didn’t help him, and now he’s wearing a brown one. His short trip on Die Hard was followed by the bull chasing the bull fighters.
One thing that was clear was that the audience wasn’t familiar with the bull fighters; their introductions were met with only a light reaction. I did my best hollering for Shorty and Frank, but Jesse Byrne, the new kid, had no name recognition out here. And the powers-that-be waited until way late in the event to introduce Julian Marino.
MARCH OF PROGRESS?
Could it be that the PBR actually has been listening to me preaching that bull riders are the new rock stars? At the Saturday night event, the pre-fireworks music was The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” ─ one of my all-time favorite songs, no less, by my all-time favorite band. While Marchi wrapped for Minor Incident, who’s never been ridden in 12 outs, “I Love Rock and Roll” was blasting across the arena. In fact, there was a lot more rock than country music. Maybe that’s because the event was in New York City, but it’s a start.
However, they’re not listening when it comes to the opening “ceremonies.” Somebody recited a prayer to “Lord God” or “Jesus,” as if everyone who’s into bull riding is a Christian and wants to pray to a male god. Then a child named Eva Blankenhorn sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” I’ve never understood why this song is sung at sporting events. “We Are The Champions” would be more appropriate. There’s also something strange about having a 12-year-old sing it. She’s not the first one to do it, but one child was so terrified, she ran off before she got very far. Who picks the singer? And why? If the PBR insists on this irrational custom, they oughtta just re-hire Travis Clark (of We the Kings) who sang at the Times Square event and knocked it outta the park.
After the religion and the battle song, people carried out an American flag that was nearly destroyed in the 9/11 rubble, and was stitched back together. The announcer called it “the 9/11 flag.” I don’t know what possible connection 9/11 has with bull riding, but as soon as someone waves a flag, it’s supposed to make sense. The crowd responded like Pavlov’s dogs to a dinner bell. I think it’s disrespectful to link that tragedy with anything else, and especially inappropriate to haul out that flag before something as ultimately trivial as a sporting event.