Last weekend the PBR (hat's Professional Bull Riding, not Pabst Blue Ribbon) Association kicked off its 2007 season with a massive two day event at Madison Square Garden. It was, in the most cliché terms, an island of red in a larger island of blue or as the "entertainer of the year" pointed out (and I'm paraphrasing here), "You can be walking down the street in NY wearing anything and no one'll pay you the time of day, but the moment you put on a cowboy hat eight heads turn to stare at you."
Having never experienced a rodeo before except for a brief visit to Cheyenne during Frontier Days, I was struck by the effort taken to intertwine partiotism and the sport. The natural connection between cowboys and the myth of America is undeniably obvious. However, the parade of soldiers, the flaming letters USA carved into the ground, the flag waving video montages and a seventy five foot long Old Glory dropping from the ceiling of the garden all drove home the point that you, the fans in the stands, were the real only real Americans. It's good marketing and even somewhat inspiring, but for the widing rifts in this company, it's only more bad medicine.
And how was the bull riding you ask? Watching a 1700 lb bull try to buck a man from his back is damn cooler than most of what I've seen at MSG.