FORT WORTH, Texas ― It's that time of the year, or should I
Everyone went into the 2013 season with a pocketful of dreams and by this time many of them are dealing with the reality of a handful of disappointments.
You can already make a laundry list of nagging aches and pains along with crippling injuries. There have been slumps and missed opportunities as well as canceled flights and, of course, this week everyone is dealing with weather delays.
This week's Built Ford Tough Series event, in Kansas City, is the eighth in a row and there are four more before there's a one-week break and then another five in the next six weeks after that. Even the week of Easter a lot riders will make their way to Stephenville, Texas, for the annual Spring Fling Touring Pro Division event at the Lone Star Arena.
The long grind is setting in.
Many of the hardworking road crew members haven't been home since before New Year's Eve and won't likely be back until just before Memorial Weekend. Several riders and stock contractors have missed out on family gatherings and school functions for their kids.
The road can be a lonely place, especially when the competition isn't going in your favor.
It happens every year on this grinding 10-month long trip.
It's human nature.
You can feel the grind setting in and then last week, in St. Louis you could see it.
At some point every year it's bound to happen.
For the first time this season a number of riders who failed to make it back to the Built Ford Tough Championship Round packed their bags and exited the arena long before Bushwacker scored 47 points.
And it wasn't just those who are hobbled and limping their way around.
Some are trying to simply turn the corner in hopes of turning their luck around.
The sooner one event comes to an end, the sooner another begins and, after all, it only takes one ride to start a new streak. Some guys are trying to take advantage of some extra time here and there with family and others are, perhaps, tired of always rushing off to a local airport and simply wanted to take a more leisurely drive.
That said, the BFTS is worth all the sacrifice.
This is greatest professional bull riding organization in the world and for everyone involved this is it, this is the best job you could hope for in professional bull riding.
The PBR is the sport of bull riding what Major League Baseball is to baseball and what the National Football League is to football. The PBR, namely those on the BFTS, is an elite collection of the best bull riders in the world competing against the rankest bulls in the world ― bar none.
And, truth be told, no other bull riding organization can make that claim.
It you want to see the Top 35 riders in the world facing the rankest bulls there is only event and that's the BFTS ― period.
So in spite of whatever inclement weather the riders, contractors, crew members and PBR staffers will face traveling through the winter storms en route to Kansas City, it's with good reason. When it comes to Western-themed sports there's nothing that has made an impact equally to what the PBR has accomplished in the past 20 years.
This week everyone will likely bundle up and leave a little early (or in my case later than usual in hopes of being behind the storm), but, more importantly, thankful for the continued support of the cowboy nation.
Hope to see those from the Missouri/Kansas area at the Sprint Center and everyone can certainly tune in on Sunday for back-to-back broadcasts.
he 15/15 Bucking Battle will air Sunday, February 24 at 1 p.m. ET on CBS followed by the conclusion of the Built Ford Tough Invitational at 8 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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