Redneck Sustainability: Rodeo as Bloodsport

Thunderdome from Burning Man 2005

Bloodsport is such a nasty word these days. And who would disagree with such barbarisms as dog and cockfighting making the news? In the wilder rural arenas drunk misogynists strap on paintball guns and hunt bikini-clad (or totally nude!) women for sport. I’m aghast too, believe you me.

But there is one bloodsport in the U.S. doing its best to give the whole misdirected genre its good name back –Rodeo. And once again, rednecks are leading the way. According to most on-line dictionaries bloodsport can refer to either a game or sport designed to end in death, or one typically involving the shedding of blood. While both of these are indeed bloodsport, today I’m referring to the gentlemanly tradition of risking life and limb for glory and entertainment.

This category used to include such American pastimes as football and boxing, but those games have since crossed the line into the bloodlust world, leaving the sport behind. Only Rodeo remains alive today and bubbling with redneck passion to demonstrate amazingly stupid feats of daring in order to sacrificially bring an equilibrium to rural America.

You see, in the prehistoric days humans clubbed mastodons with sabre-toothed tigers. In the Bible days people dealt with their grisly need for blood out in the open, by taking a literal scapegoat and draining it on an alter. Sins gone, all better. Then in the olden days civilization progressed (or digressed) through periods of burnings, hangings and world wars.

When things settled down a bit we advanced into bloody sports, starting with murder golf and eventually evolving into Thunderdome. It’s human nature. We need blood letting (sometimes referred to as sacred violence) in order to find stability and resolution of guilt as a society. I can accept this fact. But as a granola, I am always searching for the most sustainable way.

Rodeo. Honest to goodness. Rodeo is a blood sport of gentlemen and women. The ceremonies open with a prayer to God for grace and safety. The action progresses in a fair and egalitarian manner, with spectators called upon to root equally for every participant. And while violence is a necessary component, fans never cheer for human or animal to be injured. It is a truly sustainable bloodsport — one we wouldn’t have without rednecks from Kansas to Texas to Utah to Montana.

I ask you, where else would America’s God-fearing, clean-cut youth find a constructive outlet for their teenage angst and shattered childhood dreams without Rodeo? Our urban youth are stuck in an escalating wold of gang violence, while rural youth are able to strap themselves to the back of a two-ton monstrosity and ride out a full eight seconds.

Which seems more sustainable in the end to you?

Leave a Comment