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Toughest Sport on Dirt
Bull riding is an extreme sport with serious life threatening risks but have little restriction in the safety equipment that is needed to protect these athletes. Hockey, football, and even baseball all have been mandated to wear safety helmet to protect them from injury. For newer extreme sports, like snowboarding and skateboarding, the use of a helmet is rarely debated anymore. “Every time out of the chute, bull riders face danger as real as the horns, hoofs and hard heads of bulls that can weigh a ton or more.”(usatoday) Professional bull riders should meet the same safety gear requirements as any other contact sport. Trying to hold on to the rope and not be tossed like a rag doll on a back of a bull for eight seconds is more dangerous than playing hockey or football, in which these sports require helmets.
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When it comes to helmets, this little piece of foam and plastic can save a bull riders life. Just training for this sport can be disastrous The nature of this sport is brutal and is not biased. Any rider can be hurt. Although helmets are fairly new and maybe uncomfortable head and spinal injuries can be prevented with their use. No athlete in any sport can stand repeated concussions. In bull riding there are three major times when head injuries can occur. A bull rider can be jerked tossed forward and slam his head on a bulls horns. If the rider reaches eight second dismounting can be hazardous. They could get their hand tied up in the rope that is around the bull and be stomped while trying to get the rider loose. A rider can be violently thrown in the air and dropped to the hard dirt. It is unpredictable how their head is going to land and absorb the shock of the impact. It is common sense that we use our brain for thinking and day to day body functions, without it we would just be in a vegetative state Since we do all our thinking with our brains and our brains are housed in our heads, we should do everything we can to protect this valuable asset. Wearing a helmet should become mandatory soon. It only makes sense to protect something as delicate and vulnerable as one’s head. “Rodeo, a sport in which the cowboy hat is as much an icon as a bucking bronco, has been reluctant to require its riders to wear helmets.”(Brown) Lee Akin experienced the consequences’ fist hand of not wearing a helmet. “When a bull weighing nearly a ton stepped on Lee Akin’s head one year ago at an Alabama rodeo, doctors didn’t think the four-time PBR finalist would live.” (Godfrey) Another professional bull rider, Jerome Davis, met his fate in the fall of 1997.
He crashed into the bull. Davis was jerked back and hit his head against the animal. He was knocked unconscious and fell to the ground head first. The impact caused a fracture/dislocation of the seventh vertebrae at the base of his neck. The sixth vertebrae exploded and shattered. He was paralyzed from the neck down.( Hollen)
When it comes to injuries…
A study of nearly 2,000 professional rodeo events between 1981 and 2005 found that half of all injuries occurred during bull riding. Knee and shoulder injuries are most common, according to Downey, but “most alarming” are the head injuries. Concussions account for nearly 9 percent of all bull riding injuries, he notes.( Rueters)
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Bull riders cannot miss an event even if their injuries are minor but need time to heal. When a bull rider gets injured and cannot compete, he falls down in his rankings, risking his title and income. So knowing that, they continue to compete with concussions and other broken or dislocated body parts. As for the cowboys who do wear a helmet “longevity seems to be a common theme” ( Geupel)
We know the cowboy hat holds great traditions of bull riders. No doubt this symbol is very meaningful to all those who live this life. Before the event ride, after the ride and at all other times, is when the cowboy hat can be worn. Let’s not lose our heads and start our children on the right foot with using a helmet from day one.
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