FORT WORTH, Texas - It's an old cliché, but it's true-the more things change, the more they do stay the same.
And I'm lucky - or fortunate - enough to experience both ends of the spectrum.
Back in the day, as they say, legendary sportswriters like Grantland Rice - yes, he's the namesake of Bill Simmons' web site - and Red Smith used to travel from one game or sporting event to another with the athletes and competitors.
In fact, the many stories of beat writers riding in train cars with Babe Ruth and spending the entire night drinking bourbon and playing poker make it seem as though it was as common nightly occurrence, as opposed to being a random anomaly.
I don't drink bourbon, and I don't play poker, but unlike many of today's sports scribes, who are kept at distance from the respective athletes they cover, I'm afforded access to those I write about that other writers can't even fathom.
Dare I say it's a friendship that goes beyond the arena.
A few years ago when my father passed away, Reese Cates, who lost his father when he was just a boy, called to share his condolences. A few have invited me to their weddings. Most of them, who are fathers, have shared photos and videos of their children.
We've talked about hopes and dreams that are both personal and professional.
Some of those moments and conversations are on the record, and others are just between us.
Today, it's hard to find that with other sports.
Then again, professional bull riding has long since been that rarified sport in which fans have always had access to bull riders, stock contractors and others involved in the sport.
As a matter of fact, this another way in which the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.
Social media is a relatively new means of communicating.
Perhaps Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, or whatever else you fancy these days, might not seem very cowboy-like, but the premise of communicating certainly is. And that's why, in due time, there's been a widespread influx of riders and contractors who have taken to social media.
In fact, in large part, they're very active.
I can recall just a day or two before Murray started his Twitter account, he was asked by a reporter from TV Guide if he was tweeting. At the time, Murray was competing on "Dancing with the Stars," and the producers had urged them all to do so. However, not being familiar with social media he replied, "I haven't learned that dance yet."
Like I said, a few days later, he had an account.
About that same time, Lynn Wittenburg (@lynnwitt), who was then a vice president at the PBR, was the first person to encourage everyone to become not only aware of Twitter, but to actively participate. In some ways, it was a slow process, but when you stop and think about it, four years later, the PBR has an entire digital media team that now includes a social media coordinator (@macslavin).
Eventually, others followed Murray, Clark and McCoy, and now you're hard-pressed to find guys who are not involved, especially on Twitter.
Here's a sampling of some of the active accounts associated with the PBR:
Austin Meier (@AustinMeier_BWB), Chase Outlaw (@outlawchase), Cody Johnson (CodyJohnsonPBR), Guilherme Marchi (@MarchiBullRider), Harve Stewart (@HarveStewart), Jory Markiss (@jorymarkiss), Justin Koon (@realjustinkoon), Kody Lostroh (@KodyLostroh), L.J. Jenkins (LJ_JenkinsPBR), Luke Snyder (@LukeSnyder82), Pistol Robinson (@PistolRobinson), Ryan Dirteater (@ryandirteater), Sean Willingham (@SeanWillingham), Shane Proctor (@wa_sproctor_nc), Skeeter Kingsolver (@SK_Kingsolver), Jeff Robinson (@JRobinsonBulls), Mesa Pate (@MesaPate), Reece Arnold (@wolfcreekbulls), Colby Yates (@ColbyYates), J.W. Hart (@Hart_JW), Justin McBride (@jstnmcbride), Ross Coleman (@RossColemanPBR), Flint (@FlintRass), Shorty Gorham (@ShortyGorham), Jesse Byrne (@jb_bullfighter), Frank Newsom (@NewsomFrank), Brandon Bates (@BatesOutdoors), Clint Adkins (@ClintAdkins) and Jim Haworth (@JimHaworth1).
There are dozens of others.
Follow one of these, and you're likely to see a laundry list of other folks in the PBR.
Yes, social media is a great way to wish your favorite riders and contractors luck going into a Built Ford Tough Series (and even a Touring Pro Division) event, but it's more than that. It provides an insight that neither I, nor any other writer (regardless of the era in which they shared stories) could bring… and that's a firsthand account of their likes and dislikes and, more importantly, what they're thinking.
Whether you agree or disagree, and whether it's good or bad, it's exactly what they're thinking or feeling at that moment, which brings up a developing notion that social media would probably be better named instant media.
Keep in mind, if you follow someone like Douglas Duncan (@DouglasDuncan87) during the event, but you're not going to watch it until afterward, he's likely to tweet his feelings right then and there.
He and others aren't going to stop to think about the fact that some folks might be watching the event an hour behind or days later. They're going to share their thoughts in the moment, and that's what makes outlets like Twitter and Facebook the valuable commodities they are.
The same holds true with accounts like the Touring Pro Division (@PBRTPD), PBR Brazil (@PBRBrazil), PBR Australia (@PBRAustralia), PBR Canada (@PBRCanada) and the official PBR account (@PBR). Of course, there's a self-promotional hope that you would also follow @PBR_KRC.
You're going to be provided real-time scores, real-time injury updates, real-time photos and video clips.
That's the world we live in.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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