Bodies Fly As Pro Bull Riding Visits Youngstown

As I approached the Covelli Centre to check out the bull riding event, I saw a whole demographic of people who probably do not head into town much.  The men were wearing cowboy hats and boots, the women were wearing flannels, and anyone not wearing blue jeans stood out like dandelions in a well-manicured yard. 

Not sure what to expect, I headed in and first noticed that the usually pleasant-scented venue smelled like the Canfield Fair, where people pet a pig on their way to grab a sausage sandwich.

Over the course of the next few hours, I gained admiration for the men who were courageous enough to mount bulls, I learned how someone wins, and I talked with several polite people with the PBR who saw past my ignorance of their craft with a pleasant and insightful demeanor.

The crowd of close to 3,000 was larger than I thought it would be.  Robbie Hodges (above) served as the announcer/comedian in his self-proclaimed title of barrel clown.  Hodges had one of those hands-free Janet Jackson headsets on and was very active.  Hodges main job is to serve as the space filler between rides by telling jokes, dancing, jumping around, and basically doing whatever it takes to keep the audience going.

Jimmy Brownlee, of Cocoa, FL, tours with the PBR and serves as a judge.  I asked him to explain how and what the participants win.  “We mark the rides on a scale of 1-25 on the animal and 1-25 on the ride.  You have to ride at least eight seconds to get a scoreWe also look at the degree of difficulty on the bull with bucking, kicking, and spinning.  The guys can win money and a prestigious belt buckle if they are crowned the winner.”

OK, so far so good.  The guy on the horse in the above photo has the responsibility of roping a bull once the rider has been thrown.  He was pretty accurate from the distances he was heaving the lasso and I only saw him miss once all night.  Once the bull is roped successfully, it is led back to the storage cages behind the start chutes.

Once the rider is mounted in the start chute, the gate is pulled open and the bull basically starts a very unpredictable series of movements.  Many of the riders were thrown into the air and have no choice but to take the hard landing.  The way a ride ends, good or bad, is by being thrown from the bull, so the poor guy who only lasted three seconds and the rider who can survive for ten seconds realize the same fate in the end, and knowing how to fall and dodge is a key to lasting in the sport.

Besides Hodges, there are two other clowns who try to get the attention of the bull after the rider has been tossed.  In my opinion, these two guys had the riskiest job in the building.  They had to deal with every bull on every ride

How fast would you move? 

All-in-all, the crowd seemed pleased and enjoyed the efforts that the PBR Show brought to Youngstown.  If you ever get a chance to take your family to something different than a movie and dinner, throw this event on the list, you will not be disappointed.  Kasy Hays was crowned the winner of the ‘final round of ten’.  Afterwards, an autograph table was set up in the concourse where fans lined up to meet their favorite PBR personalities.


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