Idaho’s Treasure Valley is spoiled with an abundance of major western sporting events. Scan a map across the “rodeo states” and try to put your finger on another region that has as many high-level opportunities as we have here within a few short miles of each other. This means that nobody around here really needs an introduction to the Professional Bull Riders. In fact, the PBR doesn’t need an introduction pretty much anywhere, because their Built Ford Tough Series is a 30-city tour through the United States, bringing the highest caliber of bull riding to venues in places like New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Anaheim, Seattle, Las Vegas, and… Nampa. Yes, the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa, Idaho will host the 2016 DeWalt FlexVolt Invitational on October 7 and 8, adding to the valley’s reputation as one of the finest cowboy cities in the West.
The PBR has been a mainstay of our sports scene for some time, but this year it brings a few changes. It makes sense that there should be some amount of change since this year’s event is sponsored by DeWalt’s FlexVolt, which itself is the combination of dependable toughness and adaptability. We have become accustomed to having the PBR come through town in the spring, very early in the season, but this year the boys, and the bulls roll into town on October 7-8, just a few weeks before the PBR World Finals. This means that there will be additional motivation as the season winds down and riders are particularly motivated to make the last few points count. Currently, Cooper Davis and the phenomenal young Kaique Pacheco are in the top two slots, but JB Mauney and a host of superstar riders are close behind in the hunt, meaning that as we approach the end of the season, we are bound to see everyone leaving it all on the arena dirt. This is a change I’m more than willing to accommodate.
Some things won’t change, though. Bull riding just doesn’t change much. It’s 150 lbs. of cowboy versus 1700 lbs. of bull for eight seconds. Although the animals and riders are both stronger and more athletic now than they ever have been, the sport has essentially stayed the same since its genesis. Strap on, hold on, game on. We are just fortunate to now be able to watch the likes of Air Time from Jared Allen’s Pro Bull Team, who boasts a lifetime buckoff rate over 96%, and has not allowed a rider to score atop him this year. Air Time currently tops the leaderboard of bulls in the PBR, and while we can’t be guaranteed that he will be present in Nampa, he’s just one of a long line of bulls in the ninetieth percentile, tossing some of the best riders we’ve ever seen. Overall, we are witnessing the best level of both bulls and riders we’ve ever seen at one time, and to have them rolling into town hot in pursuit of the Finals has more potential than we’ve ever been able to appreciate here!
Returning this year as well is “Purple Night“, benefiting the Man Up Crusade, and bringing awareness of the epidemic of domestic abuse to an international audience. To have a local foundation be given such notoriety, not just in the arena, but globally via television broadcasts is huge, and speaks to how much the Western lifestyle cares about people. We are accustomed to the sport of bull riding bringing us messages of toughness and grit, but now it brings us messages of support and awareness with heart. That is truly the cowboy way.
This year’s DeWalt FlexVolt Invitational might have some changes, and might have some things staying just the same, but there’s one thing for sure that could never change when the PBR is in town. Once that chute gate opens, you never know what’s about to happen. That’s why we keep coming back – and that’s not about to change either.