Judge rules that PRCA can keep Elite Rodeo Association members out of their rodeos
These are the ERA stakeholders who may not be competing at PRCA rodeos in the near future. The list
Exempt from the ERA/PRCA lawsuit and actions because they’re not members of the PRCA.
Sarah Rose Mcdonald
Team Roping Headers
Team Roping Heelers
Clay O’Brien Cooper
Saddle Bronc Riding
Bull Riders TBA
On Thursday, Feb. 4, the first ruling in what will likely be a long battle was made in the lawsuit between two rodeo associations.
A preliminary injunction brought by plaintiffs Elite Rodeo Association (ERA), Trevor Brazile, Bobby Mote, and Ryan Motes against the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association was denied, meaning that ERA members who are owners in the association will not be allowed to compete at PRCA events till a determination has been made in the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn concluded that “Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction, nor that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.”
The PRCA issued a bylaw in September that stated that anyone with a financial interest in another rodeo association (that represented two or more of the standard rodeo events) could not compete at PRCA rodeos. Because the ERA was initially set up so that all members were owners, it prevented all ERA athletes from competing at PRCA events.
Now, according to ERA spokesperson Holly DeLaune, of the 87 ERA members, 15 percent of them are no longer owners, but contestants only.
“A common misconception is that 15 percent are walking away from the ERA,” she said. “In reality, the 15 percent are staying, but have given up their ownership under much duress so that they can be in compliance with the bylaws and attend PRCA rodeos as well as ERA events. Many of them have contractual obligations to sponsors that require them to attend PRCA events.
“This group has pledged their commitment to make ERA events their first priority in their rodeo schedules – they will compete in both associations.”
The list of ERA contestants on their website includes ten bareback riders, ten saddle bronc riders, eight steer wrestlers, ten tie-down ropers, nine team roping headers, nine team roping heelers, and no bull riders. The roster has not been updated since it was posted in August. The barrel racers are not subject to the ruling, since they are Women’s Pro Rodeo Association members and are not listed in the lawsuit. They will be able to compete at both ERA and PRCA events, and can qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
DeLaune would not comment on which athletes were owners and which were not.
The ERA contestants are making a big sacrifice, DeLaune said, for the sport of rodeo. “They are trying to make the game (of rodeo) better for all of us. This is how they provide for their families. They’re definitely not doing it out of a selfish situation.”
Sponsors of the ERA and its contestants will benefit, she said. “In the marketing world, eyeballs matter. With putting this tour on FOX Sports 2, it will be nationally televised and reach sixty million homes. For the first time, fans can watch and track the journey. Right now, how (rodeo) is done, it’s hard to track, with 600 rodeos during the season. Those hometown rodeos are wonderful, but this is a more concise format to help draw in new fans, and it’s easier to follow. We call it the ‘Championship race to Dallas, where fans can watch the entire journey ending with the crowning of a world champion.’”
Four time PRCA world champion bareback rider Bobby Mote had a fifth gold buckle as his goal, but that won’t happen for 2016. The Oregon native who now lives in Texas is an ERA athlete/owner focusing on the ERA’s inaugural year, since he can’t compete at PRCA events. “We haven’t changed our mission” because of the injunction ruling, he said. “We’re going to keep moving forward, doing what we set out to do. For the cowboys like myself, I want to go to the NFR again this year, but that’s off the table now. It’s unfortunate for the fans and for the contestants, but I feel like I can make more of a mark in trying to improve rodeo by being involved in this great group of men and women in rodeo than I can by winning another gold buckle.”
“If we could somehow work with the PRCA, and believe me, we’ve tried, and we’d love to. We’d love to see both organizations thrive. But at the same time, if they don’t want competition, we cannot let it deter us from what we set out to do.”
But for the time being, 85 percent of those ERA members will not be at PRCA shows. “If you’re wanting to see the Tufs, Kaycees and Lukes, the only place you’ll be guaranteed to see them is at an ERA event,” DeLaune said, referring to world champions Tuf Cooper, Kayee Feild, and Luke Branquino.
The ERA schedule includes fifteen rodeos in eight cities and a finals in Dallas in November. FOX Sports 2 will broadcast each rodeo a few days after it takes place. The first event takes place March 25-26 in Redmond, Ore.
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.