NEW YORK ― It seems like only last weekend that we saw history accomplished when Silvano Alves became the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles.
And yet, here we are, on the eve of what will be the historic 20th anniversary season when the Built Ford Tough Series kicks off at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Not only were the 20 founders ― David Bailey, Jr., Clint Branger, Mark Cain, Adam and Gilbert Carrillo, Cody Custer, Jerome Davis, Bobby DelVecchio, Mike Erikson, David Fournier, Michael Gaffney, Tuff Hedeman, Cody Lambert, Scott Mendes, Daryl Mills, Ty Murray, Ted Nuce, Aaron Semas, Jim Sharp and the late Brent Thurman ― able to come together with a single, unified vision of forming a standalone bull riding organization, but to reach the dawning of its 20th season is more than a testament to its staying power.
More importantly, as sports fans, it provides all of us with a deep enough history to really begin comparing and contrasting all the numbers, stats and trends of the past 20 years (and, for that matter, comparing it to the pre-PBR era of professional bull riding).
You can look at the founders ― many of whom were at the end of their respective careers by that point ― and compare their accomplishments within the PBR to riders like Adriano Moraes and J.W. Hart, who might not have been among the original 20, but were competing from the first PBR event in Fort Worth, Texas, until the time they retired.
You can compare either of those eras with a pair of two-time World Champions ― Chris Shivers and Justin McBride. They are among the greatest riders in history and a source of pride comes with the fact that their entire professional careers took place within the PBR.
As sports fans, it provides all of us with a deep enough history to really begin comparing and contrasting all the numbers, stats and trends.
Of course, there are more recent eras (or even, at this point, generations) that have come along since.
Guilherme Marchi and Mike Lee, or the battle between Kody Lostroh and J.B. Mauney, which until this past year had been considered among the tightest races in the PBR record books.
You can look at and examine the influx of foreign bull riders-namely the Brazilians.
They've won eight of the first 19 titles, including the past three, and five of the past seven. Not to mention four of the past five World Finals event titles have been won by a Brazilian, and relative newcomers like Edevaldo Ferreira and Marco Eguchi have yet to truly make their mark the way Moraes, Alves, Marchi, Robson Palermo and Renato Nunes have.
Just think: Palermo won in excess of $300,000 at each of the past two World Finals, whereas Nuce (1994) and Dunn (1995) barely combined for $100,000 in winning the first two Finals events.
In 1995, only Hedeman earned $100,000, compared to more than 20 riders who did so in 2012.
That's only a fraction of what can truly be compared and debated, especially now that the PBR has a 20-year sampling of statistics managed by Slade Long, which also brings to question the comparing of bull pen power over the years.
While the rankest bulls today ― Asteroid and Bushwacker ― are no more rank than Little Yellow Jacket, Dillinger or Panhandle Slim, the depth of today's pen far exceeds the early years of the PBR, which was already deeper and ranker overall than the pre-PBR era.
Today's blog entry ― my first in quite some time ― is just meant to be a top-level explanation of some of the many topics I'll explore throughout the upcoming season.
Whether it's comparing and contrasting numbers, analyzing trends, or simply sharing some behind-the-scenes goings on and other human interest stories that catch my attention, I hope that by blogging, it opens up another means of sharing stories about a fascinating sport.
I won't be so bold as to say it will be a unique point of view, but I can guarantee it will uniquely be my point of view (and no one else's, but eager to hear your thoughts, as well).
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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