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PRCA solving issues, working on member benefits

The summer rodeo season is in full swing, and I wish everyone a safe and successful Cowboy Christmas. It seems like a good time to bring everyone up to speed on a few key issues and initiatives this administration is currently working on, in keeping my promise of open communication with our members and fans. 

One of the biggest issues we’re working on right now is the renegotiation of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contract. The current contract runs through the 2014 Wrangler NFR, so now is the time to work through every detail. Naturally, this is one of the most critical issues on the table for the PRCA and its future, because of the importance of Rodeo’s Super Bowl to our sport of professional rodeo. The future of the NFR is important to not only our Top 15 contestants who rodeo full time, but to every member of our organization. We are very proud of the fact that 88 cents of every dollar that comes in the door benefits PRCA member services programs. The PRCA Board of Directors and I are working diligently on every aspect of this negotiation, and will keep you updated as details are confirmed. 

We’re also proud of the fact that we have not raised PRCA membership dues since 1986, yet are today offering more services to our members than ever before. We’ve made long-term investments in elevating our entire sport, such as bringing ProRodeo out of the stone age with a new computer system five years ago and replacing the one that came over on the Mayflower. Such improvements to the infrastructure of our day-to-day operations are costly, but do wonders in terms of efficiencies and additional member services we are able to offer. 

On the subject of dues, I’d also like to clarify that when the PRCA puts money into championship events, such as the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City and the All American ProRodeo Finals presented by Pendleton Whisky in Waco, Texas, that money does not come from member dues, but rather other revenue sources, such as sponsorships and the WNFR. Those contributions, which also include support for every Ram Circuit Finals Rodeo, really do reach every member, which makes them even more important than if they were only benefitting a select few.

As we go to press with this issue heading into Cowboy Christmas, which is the busiest week of our year, we are again encouraged that rodeo entries are up. We’re on track to set another record for total entries in 2013, and that speaks volumes for the health of ProRodeo. We’ve increased PRCA rodeo attendance in each of the last several years, and last year were up 700,000 fans at PRCA rodeos over the previous year. The number of PRCA rodeos is up again this year. In 2013, we’ll have more than 600 PRCA rodeos for the first time in a long time. That’s huge for us, because it’s our job to create opportunity for our members. It’s this administration’s goal to break every record that increases the opportunities we offer our members every year. 

Young people are every sport’s future, and our youth rodeo programs are growing and getting stronger all the time. Our PRCA Rodeo Camps are enjoying record participation from coast to coast. One recent camp in Gerry, N.Y., was full, and we’re looking to add timed-events ground school to the roughstock events at select camps moving forward. PRCA Rodeo Camps provide a fun, free, educational experience for kids interested in getting involved, and by showing them correct fundamentals, it’s our aim to help them get started safely and on the right track to build their rodeo future. We had five PRCA Rodeo Camps in 2009 when we started this program, and will have 25 of them in 2013.

The PRCA has built strong alliances and partnerships with key youth rodeo organizations, including the National Little Britches Rodeo Association, National High School Rodeo Association and National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association. We’re working together to mentor kids and educate them about the possibilities in our sport, while encouraging them to get a good education as they climb the rodeo ladder. We offer free PRCA permits to state champions in the PRCA events at the high school level, and to national champions in all three organizations. We also offer reduced-cost PRCA permits to NIRA members who work PRCA-sanctioned events. We will continue to do everything we can to help rodeo’s young talent succeed in this great sport. 

Our inaugural Wrangler Champions Challenge in Redding, Calif., in May was a huge success, and we’re now turning our attention to the next stop in Amarillo, Texas, on Sept. 18., then Kissimmee, Fla., on Oct. 5. From there, we’ll head to Winnie, Texas, on Halloween. The Wrangler Champions Challenge is just what this sport needs, and we’re very pleased to announce additional stops in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 28, and Spanish Fork, Utah, next May 31. I believe this concept offers something for everyone in our sport, and is the wave of the future in terms of sponsorships and television.
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