2020 NWSS changes its PRCA Rodeo format to tournament style
After almost 90 years of rodeo tradition, the National Western Stock Show is making history by changing its PRCA rodeo format for 2020. This year, the NWSS Pro Rodeos feature a new tournament-style format with more than half a million dollars up for grabs. NWSS President Paul Andrews sat down with Lincoln Rogers to discuss the rodeo format change for the historic venue.
Lincoln: With almost 90 years of NWSS rodeo tradition, what made you change the format to a tournament style?
Paul Andrews: It was really driven by the consumer. The feedback we’ve been getting for decades, frankly, was that it was impossible to follow the cowboys through to the finals. If you came to our rodeo in the last 50 years and you were here on the third day, you had no idea who was advancing and no idea who wasn’t advancing. So it really got tough for the fans. The consumer demanded a simpler system, and that is why we have gone to the tournament style rodeo.
Lincoln: The NWSS is high on tradition. How long were the discussions behind the scenes to change the format?
Paul Andrews: We’ve probably been working on this for five years. Working with the PRCA, they have to bless the format or we are not a PRCA rodeo and we want to be a PRCA rodeo. We have been one forever and we will continue to be one. At the end of the day, the PRCA this year liked the format we submitted and embraced it and we moved forward.
Lincoln: It seems like you had a good test run, so to speak, with your Colorado vs The World Rodeo, which is a one-day tournament style rodeo. Did its success with the public play a role in your decision to make the change?
Paul Andrews: We started the Colorado vs The World Rodeo about eight years ago and it is really well received. Because it so easy to understand. You have two semi-finals and a final. So it played a role in how we would craft what we were crafting. My senior director of rodeo, Leon Vick, really gets all the credit for shaping out what we ended up with and I embraced it wholeheartedly.
Lincoln: Do you see this change propelling the rodeo past 90 years and into the future?
Paul Andrews: I wouldn’t be surprised if we try to tweak it a little bit over the course of the next decade. There are other ways you can tweak the format and make it even easier to follow, but right now, we start with 80 contestants. Each contestant competes in a pair of rodeos and their scores are averaged. The top 24 contestants in each event move on to the Super Semi-Finals Saturday (Jan. 25). There will be three performances on Super Semi-Finals Saturday and then we are going to take the top four from each of them to the finals on Sunday. Twelve contestants per event move ahead to the Sunday Finals, made up of the top four from each rodeo on Saturday. It has actually allowed us to garner a TV deal. With the rodeo being a tournament style rodeo, the Cowboy Channel embraced it. We are the first rodeo that is being broadcast on the Cowboy Channel. They love it and we really got a great deal there. The 3:30 p.m. performance on Saturday will be broadcast live and then the finals on Sunday (Jan. 26).