It’s no secret to readers of this blog that I am a huge fan of bull riding and rodeo sports. In case you missed it, my coverage of last year’s Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) World Finals in Las Vegas included a brief examination of humankind’s fascination with bulls from the ancient cult of Mithras up through the American West and Hemingway. I’ve also blogged about legal issues relating to rodeo sports and written songs mentioning rodeo.
My enjoyment of bull riding came fairly recently in life, and I guess part of the reason I enjoy it so much is because I know that, had I grown up around the sport when I was younger, I definitely would have participated in it. Suburban Atlanta in the 80’s and 90’s was not exactly a hotbed of bullriding, so I participated in my region’s adolescent male proving ground de jure-high school football. In addition to this rite of passage, I fed my appetite for adventure sports with high school wrestling, weightlifting, and the outdoor sports I enjoyed so much in the Boy Scouts such as backpacking and whitewater rafting. As an adult in law school I boxed for a few years, so when when I first moved to Nevada I thought it natural to have a conversation with my wife about “trying” rodeo a few times just “for fun”. Needless to say she was not wild about that idea and alas (since she is the boss) I am writing about rodeo instead of participating in it. (Editor’s note: we have reached a compromise of sorts in that I have recently taken up surfing).
So I was happy to see this weekend that Netflix has a new series out called Fearless which follows the bull riders who participate in the PBR. It’s an exciting series which examines the motivations of the riders and the dangers they face on tour. Indeed the very first scene of the series depicts footage of Neil Holmes after suffering a serious injury in last year’s 2015 World Finals. I am glad that Holmes is now OK and riding again, I was there and witnessed his injury and it did not look good at the time. Such is the nature of bull riding, which Fearless makes a point of mentioning is “the most dangerous sport in the world”. (As an aside Neil Holmes is a complete badass. If you don’t believe me here is a video of him getting stepped on by a bull then just getting up and walking away.)
Fearless also explores another interesting development in bull riding which I mentioned in my article last fall-the growing international nature of the sport. Both the riders and the fans come from all over the world, with the majority of today’s best riders coming from Brazil. The exciting first episode even explores the immensely popular Barretos rodeo, the largest in the world.
So while you’re enjoying your Labor Day weekend, if you’re inclined to sit around the house “Netflix and chilling” I would highly recommend that you check out Fearless. It’s as equally informative as it is entertaining, and overall takes an excellent look at the most dangerous sport in the world.