Friday, March 18, 2011

Josh Peter, Fried Twinkies, Buckle Bunnies and Bull Riders

Rodeo Week concludes at BITS with this book about pro bull riders and the multimillion-dollar business that has sprung up around them. Professional bullriding has morphed from what used to be a feature rodeo event into a cross between NASCAR and the WWF.

Sports writer Josh Peter follows the 2004 PBR tour that crisscrosses the U.S. and ends with the finals in Las Vegas, drumming up excitement and suspense as he goes. He brings to life the widely divergent personalities of the riders. These range from seasoned champion and family-man Adriano Moraes and the stereotypical drinking, cussing Justin McBride, to the withdrawn, almost spookily religious Mike Lee.

Among them are a diversity of others, including rookies, old-timers hoping for a comeback, and competitors from countries as far away as Australia and Brazil. We learn that one out of 15 rides results in injuries requiring treatment, and Peter devotes a fair share of pages to the sports medicine room.

Adventurous foodie tries a Fried Twinkie
Meanwhile, we follow the drama of big business as differences between the men who run this show create a number of behind-the-scenes conflicts. There are firings and the threat of a boycott by riders who feel they are being under-appreciated by their employers. 

Peter's revelation of corporate and investor maneuvers will enlighten fans familiar only with the glitz and glamour of the sport and the men who are its stars. The book also describes the stock growers and investors who raise, train, buy, and sell bulls. 

There's even a side trip to Brazil, where we visit the ranch Moraes has bought with his winnings. Fans will enjoy the DVD documentary, Rank, which is a compelling record of the 2004 season finals, focusing on Moraes, McBride, and Lee.

Fried Twinkies, etc. is available at amazon and AbeBooks.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up:  Mark Thompson, American Character


  1. It sounds like a helluva year. Not for me, but I bet I'd enjoy the documentary.

  2. 1 out of 15 rides leads to requried treatment. Wow, that's scary.

  3. I've had this book on my TBR shelf for about a year now. Need to get after it.

  4. Professional Rodeo in general and Bullriding in particular have gone the route of ALL professional sports, that is it's purely business anymore. When it comes to soccer I watched the ten year olds playing in the street during the World Cup and when it comes to rodeo, I prefer the Ranch Rodeo "Circuit". In other words, for me, it's about the joy of the sport, not the money. This from a "retired" bullrider.

  5. David, the doc is a good one.

    Charles, I read somewhere that the risk of injury in rodeo is greater than pro football.

    Chris, you'll like it.

    Don, I know about ranch rodeos only from friends who get to them. One in particular prefers them for the reason you mention.