Like any sports nerd, I was geared up for the numbers going into this past weekend’s PBR DeWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Rankings, buckoff rates, and other numbers were all updated, and all the stats were lined up to see what the weekend would bring. There was only one stat that I wasn’t ready for when the Sunday afternoon performance hit, but when I heard it, it overwhelmed all the others. The stat?

50 percent.

Yes, the most incredible number stated over the weekend hit hard Sunday, and it wasn’t directly related to anything that was happening on the arena floor. It came from Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donohue, who delivered a message to fans in attendance that fifty percent of calls for service to law enforcement agencies are made for domestic violence issues. Suddenly, the other numbers paled a bit.

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Now, while the number is not directly related to the sport of bull riding or the PBR DeWALT Guaranteed Tough Invitational, the link has a closer association than it might seem at first, because Sunday’s performance featured the first ever partnership between the PBR and Man Up Crusade™.  Yes, on Sunday afternoon, in front of a packed Ford Idaho Center and a national audience on the CBS Sports Network, the PBR adopted not only the message, but the color of the Crusade, decking the fans, riders, and any willing party in purple to raise awareness of the epidemic of domestic violence.

Of late, other sports leagues and associations have been dealing with the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault in more proactive and forthright ways, so it is a truly welcome sight to see the traditional western sports we love become involved as well, and even more so when they embrace a local campaign and put it on display for a greater audience than our home rodeos and events can. Seeing riders from not only across the nation, but across the globe donning purple riding gear as well as Man Up bandanas and patches was a strong and powerful statement of both awareness and support, and that’s what the Man Up Crusade™ is all about: awareness, support, advocacy, and funding services for victims. It’s why I proudly donned my purple paisley Roper snap shirt, and stood alongside an arena full of other similarly clad fans. There is strength in numbers, and on Sunday the numbers were impressive indeed.

The day was not without the sport’s own brand of excitement. The PBR absolutely never disappoints, and this year’s occurrence of the event proved that yet again. A loud arena blasting both pyrotechnics and Skillet tunes was just the icing on top of amazing performances by the likes of Mike Lee, newcomer Mason Lowe, and the winner of the entire event, none other than the legendary Guilherme Marchi. These riders and animal athletes are the best in the game, and always bring their A game to Nampa, making every opportunity to witness them a sheer pleasure, and the 2015 edition held up to the high expectations.

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The PBR has always been known for their philanthropic outreach. For years, they have worked hard at doing good on local and larger levels through a variety of programs and venues. I know this firsthand, as evidenced by how the PBR graciously treated our family some years ago when my wife and I were both jobless, but they caught wind of this and provided our family with a memorable evening at the show. We had no opportunity to provide them anything at all in return for their kindness, but they reached out to us, and showed first-class kindness. It doesn’t surprise me that they should join hands with the Man Up Crusade™ because that’s the kind of heart this organization has.

Nothing will change until the strongest stand up for those who can’t. Ignoring, denying, and justifying the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault have only led to the overwhelming and even alarming numbers that plague our communities and families. Knowing that many incidents continue to go unreported, unaddressed, and untreated makes the 50 percent number seem even that much more horrifying. Few who read these words will ever have the opportunity to wear their purple atop a world class bull in front of a national audience, but every individual has the potential to enact change in their own family and community by taking a stand and raising a voice of support.

To see the arena awash in purple on Sunday was a powerful and moving experience that made me proud of the Treasure Valley, proud of traditional western sports, proud of my western heritage, and encouraged for the future. And all along, I thought it the bull riding itself would be the exciting part.

Are you a victim of domestic violence, physical or sexual assault, or any other form of abuse? Help is available for you from a variety of resources.  You do not need to keep silent – we are here for you!

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