During these challenging times when western riding sports organizers continually are making big changes because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a high-profile Texas bronc rider is chairing the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s board.

That’s Jacobs Crawley, the 2015 world saddle bronc riding champion from Stephenville. The 32-year-old cowboy has been a PRCA member since 2006 and he’s earned nine trips to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Since early March, PRCA leaders have had to adjust to numerous pro rodeos either cancelling or rescheduling. With many of the larger summer rodeos cancelling, pro cowboys and cowgirls mostly have competed in smaller rodeos.

Crawley and other world class competitors normally would have competed in the larger July rodeos such as the Calgary Stampede in Alberta and the Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming. But Calgary and Cheyenne were cancelled because of COVID-19. If there had not been a pandemic, the sport’s elite would have competed in Cheyenne last weekend.

Crawley, for example, regularly has competed in smaller towns such as Coleman, Belton and Weatherford. He finished in the money at PRCA rodeos in the three Texas towns in recent weeks.

On the July 15-18 weekend, Crawley clinched the saddle bronc riding title at a July 15-18 PRCA show in Pretty Prairie, Kansas, where he turned in a score of 84 aboard a bronc named Short Grass, owned by the Beutler & Son Rodeo Co.

Crawley is ranked No. 8 in the saddle bronc riding world standings (released on July 27).

This season, some of the organizing committees of smaller rodeos that have opted conduct a rodeo during these challenging times have benefitted from having more contestants and greater media exposure.

“Regretfully, we can’t have a lot of the big ones just because of the venues and the local health restrictions, but maybe the silver lining is what it can do for some small rodeos,” Crawley said. “They’re just smaller rodeos that [normally] wouldn’t have the spotlight.”

During this season of abrupt changes, Crawley is complimentary of the PRCA’s administration (headed up by PRCA chief executive officer George Taylor) that works in the association’s corporate office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“Our top leadership in Colorado Springs have been on this from Day 1,” Crawley said. “They’ve got the Plan A, the Plan B and the Plan C. There is a list because things are changing so fast.”

At the beginning of the year, pro rodeo was making headway. For example, the larger rodeos in cities such as Fort Worth (Stock Show Rodeo), San Antonio, Houston and Arlington (RFD-TV’s The American) were featuring the world’s top competitors who were riding for larger purses. Also, the larger winter rodeos for the first time were being televised live on the Cowboy Channel, which has its studios in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

Crawley said fans liked what they were seeing.

“The pandemic has kind of broken their hearts because they were excited about all of the new concepts that they had gotten used to in January and February,” he said. “Everybody was spoiled with all of the rodeo.”

But despite the recent setbacks, Crawley is optimistic about the sport’s future.

“With the televised rodeos on the Cowboy Channel and things moving forward, it’s going to be great for years to come,” he said.

PRCA competition update

During the July 20-26 week, world class athletes competed in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association shows at Deadwood, South Dakota, Spanish Fork, Utah, and Burwell, Nebraska.

In Deadwood, 25-time PRCA world champion Trevor Brazile of Decatur finished seventh in the steer roping second round at Deadwood with an time of 11.4 seconds and fifth in the third round with a 10.9. He also finished fifth in the first round at Burwell with a 13.5. Brazile is ranked third in the PRCA’s 2020 steer roping world standings (released July 27).

Four-time world champion Tuf Cooper, who has homes in Weatherford and Decatur, finished second in the steer roping first round in Burwell with an 11.9. Cooper is ranked No. 1 in the PRCA’s 2020 world all-around title race. He’s also ranked No. 8 in the steer roping world standings and No. 2 in the tie-down roping title race.

Five-time NFR qualifier Ryan Motes of Weatherford and his partner, Coleman Proctor, tied for first in team roping at Burwell with a 5.9. Motes is ranked No. 16 in the team roping heeling world standings.

Former NFR qualifier Stevi Hillman of Weatherford finished fifth in barrel racing in Deadwood with a 17.84. She’s ranked No. 7 in the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association 2020 barrel racing world standings.

PBR update

The Professional Bull Riders tour is scheduled to come to Dickies Arena in Fort Worth on Aug. 29-30. The PBR WinStar World Casino and Resort Invitational is part of the Unleash The Beast, the PBR’s top tier tour. The Fort Worth tour stop will help competitors qualify for the PBR World Finals, which is scheduled for Nov. 4-8 at T Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than 35 years. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.

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