I took special notice of Monday’s news release from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, especially concerning the note about legendary roper Joe Beaver crossing the $3 million mark in career earnings.
I recall the pomp and circumstance surrounding the announcement of Beaver crossing the $2 million mark during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo a dozen years ago. Beaver was shuffled into our tiny media room in the gallows of the Thomas & Mack Center for the news conference. He stood in the corner near the Coors keg and answered questions.
(For the record, the only reporter who was put off by the exchange was the late Dwayne Erickson from the Calgary Herald, who just wanted to get to the beer. As an update, the media has been switched to the UNLV practice gym, so we have more space; in addition, the kegs have been gone for years.)
I bring all this up to show you just how much Beaver has slowed over the years. Since he crossed the $2 million mark, Tuf Cooper has gone from a pre-teen to more than $1.1 million in PRCA earnings and owns two tie-down roping gold buckles.
“I quit really competing (full time) so long ago that it was something that hadn’t crossed my mind anymore,” Beaver, who earned $3,175 at the Fort Worth (Texas) Stock Show Rodeo, told the PRCA. “This shouldn’t have taken so long; I was at $2.8 million about six years ago.”
Trevor Brazile holds the earnings mark at more than $5 million. Beaver joins Billy Etbauer, Fred Whitfield and Cody Ohl with more than $3 million in career earnings.
Hopefully that exclusive club will be filled with dozens more very soon. Rodeo cowboys and cowgirls deserve the opportunity to make millions in their careers, if not annually.
Can we get there? I believe so. We all need to do our part to help the sport continue to grow, in both fan base and in sponsorships.