Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys: Most Dangerous Eight Seconds in Sports?

Lindsay Langhals

Amanda Hendrix-Komoto

October 30, 2015

HSTA 160

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys:

Most Dangerous Eight Seconds in Sports?

Click! The bull is locked in the chute. Swish! The brave young man’s Wranglers slide over its sides. “Yeah!” The cowboy says with a nod, communicating that he’s ready for what has been called “the longest eight seconds in sports.”[1] Ping! The gate flies open and the 1,700 pound animal goes bucking across the arena. Eight long seconds pass for the cowboy, his companions and competition, and all of those who care about him. Buzz! The buzzer denotes that his time is up. Thud! His boots hit the ground at his dismount and he runs to safety at the edge of the arena. It is a ride like this that anyone who has ever loved a cowboy hopes for. He is safe and moving on to the next round. Although this was an ideal ride, not all rides end with the rider safely dismounting. Rodeo is often called the most treacherous of all sports. Is it true that rodeo, and more specifically bull riding, is the most dangerous sport? Or is it just another among the multitude of myths of the American West? Lane Frost is an example of why rodeo is sometimes said to be the most dangerous eight seconds in sports and just why exactly, Mamas should not let their babies grow up to be cowboys. The romance of his life, and the cowboy culture he represents, however, explain why mamas do it anyway.

Ever since he was a boy, being raised on his daddy’s dairy farm in Lapoint, Utah, Lane Frost was intrigued by the sport of bull riding. Lane’s mother, Elsie, remembers how “he would cry when…(they) stood up to leave early…If they returned to watch the bull riding he would quiet down.”[2] Frost spent much of his childhood riding calves at home and got on his first bull at age nine. By the age of 15, Lane was competing on bulls professionally.[3] Throughout the 1980s, Lane Frost competed all over the American West, placing within the top 15 bull riders in the nation five years in a row, including a first place ranking in 1987. Lane was surely an accomplished bull rider, as he was the Superbull VIII champion in 1985 and shared the title with his good friend, Tuff Hedeman, at Superbull IX in 1986.[4]

On July 30, 1989, Lane Frost, competing at the Cheyenne Frontier days, drew a bull called “Takin’ Care of Business” and prepared for what literally became the ride of his life. This bull was one that no cowboy out there had been able to handle for the full eight seconds, but who better to take him on than that determined, former champion, and Utah cowboy, Lane Frost? Again, the same old click, swish, “Yeah!” ping routine came and went as the bull bucked across that muddy, Cheyenne arena, only this time the thud did not come after the eight second mark, and it did not come from Frost’s boots landing faithfully on the ground. He had been bucked off and due to the mud and puddles of that rainy July day could not roll to safety. “Takin’ Care of Business” came at Frost and stabbed the man in the chest with his horns.[5] Frost stood up and started toward safety but collapsed soon after and “died there in the rain and the mud in July in Cheyenne.”[6]

One unfortunate story, however, does not prove why bull riding is so dangerous. If it was just one story, it might be an anomaly, but unfortunately, there are many similar stories. Rodeo involves temporarily putting one’s life on the back of a 1,700 pound animal. A staggering 29 percent of injuries pertain to the most vital body parts of a human being: the head and the neck, with cranial trauma equaling up to 14 percent of the overall total. This is shocking; especially considering injury is estimated to be grossly underreported in bull riding. [7]

On-site trauma care is also often lacking at rodeos. The quality of medical assistance available on the scene often does not reach the level required to care for the severity of the injuries that typically occur, especially in the roughstock events (saddle bronc, bareback riding, and bull riding).[8] The unavailability of appropriate medical care paired with the fact that riders “often compete again long before they are fully healed,” creates an environment conducive to improperly treated injuries that often worsen over time and become chronic issues.[9]

Another factor to take into consideration is the argument that bull riding is becoming increasingly more dangerous because bulls are being bred to “buck harder, jump higher, and twist and turn more than their predecessors.”[10] The fact that breeding the wildest bulls for riding is incredibly profitable leads to facts like “bull riders are 10 times more likely than football players to be seriously injured.” Dale Butterwick, a sports epidemiologist, found that in the 20 years leading up to 2009, starting around the time that Lane Frost was killed, 16 deaths occurred due to bull riding and 28 others suffered “life-changing” injuries.[11]

What is it, then, that makes these men want to continue riding bulls anyway? They certainly know the facts and risks associated with the sport they love. Kody Lostroh, a 29-year-old, career bull rider, said, “You’re risking your life every time you do it…Even if you do it perfectly, you can die.”[12] Although there are often substantial cash prizes for winning rodeos and competitions, a one million dollar bonus is awarded to the world champion yearly, these hard working men could surely make a living in a variety of other careers.[13]

Perhaps many riders do it for the fame or silver and gold belt buckle trophies. Others may do it in remembrance or honor of tough Christian men like Lane Frost, who his mother says, “If he’s remembered for anything we want it to be his outstanding faith.”[14] Others still may just do it to uphold to the Western ideal of the American cowboy culture and all that comes along with it. This culture can be summed up in one statement by none other than Lane Frost, “Don’t be afraid to go after what you want to do, and what you want to be. But don’t be afraid to be willing to pay the price.”[15] So, mamas, would you let your babies grow up to be cowboys?

Bibliography

 

Primary Sources

 

Frost, Elsie. Mother of famed bullrider Lane Frost. By Rob Carter. 95.7 KKAJ FM,           January, 2014.

 

Guys, Carl. “Frost, Hedeman share Superbull IX honors, money,” Del Rio News            Herald (Del Rio, TX), May 5, 1986.

Lostroh, Kody. Bull riding increasingly dangerous, says world champ bull rider Kody      Lostroh. By Michael De Yoanna. Colorado Public Radio, January 16, 2015.

Staff and Wire Reports. “Texas rodeo champion Lane Frost dies from bull goring,”    Del Rio News Herald (Del Rio, TX), July 31, 1989.

Secondary Sources

Istvan, Zoltan. Facing the Bull: The Most Dangerous Eight Seconds in Sports. National Geographic, February 25, 2004.             http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0225_040225_TVbullr           ider.ht ml (October 15, 2015).

“Remembering Lane Frost.” Frost Enterprises, accessed September 25, 2015,             http://www.lanefrost.com/index.htm

Laurent, Jr., C. Matthew and Michael C. Meyers. “The rodeo athlete: injuries–Part II.”           Sports Medicine, 40.10 (2010): 817-834. Accessed October 14, 2015.     http://go.galegroup.com.proxybz.lib.montana.edu/ps/i.do?ty=as&v=2.1&u=            mtlib_1_1123&it=search&s=RELEVANCE&p=AONE&qt=TI~The%20Rodeo%            20Athlete%20Injuries~~SP~817~~IU~10~~SN~0112-    1642~~VO~40&lm=DA~120100000&sw=w&authCount=1

“Longest 8 Seconds in Sports.” The Ledger Independent, accessed October 14, 2015.    http://www.maysville-online.com/news/the-longest-seconds-in-    sports/article_c204a296-626a-5271-a36f-3957db0ae3e8.html

8 Seconds. Directed by John G. Avildsen. 1994. Los Angeles, CA: New Line Cinema,         1994. DVD.

Watson, Aaron. July in Cheyenne, Song. Performed by Aaron Watson (2012. HTK         Records.), CD.

[1] “Longest 8 Seconds in Sports,” The Ledger Independent, accessed October 14, 2015, http://www.maysville-online.com/news/the-longest-seconds-in-sports/article_c204a296-626a-5271-a36f-3957db0ae3e8.html

[2] “Remembering Lane Frost,” Frost Enterprises, accessed September 25, 2015, http://www.lanefrost.com/index.htm

[3] 8 Seconds. Directed by John G. Avildsen. 1994. Los Angeles, CA: New Line Cinema, 1994. DVD.

[4] Carl Guys, “Frost, Hedeman share Superbull IX honors, money,” Del Rio News Herald, (1986).

[5] Staff and wire reports, “Texas rodeo champion Lane Frost dies from bull goring,” Del Rio News Herald, (1989).

[6] Aaron Watson, July in Cheyenne, song, performed by Aaron Watson (2012; HTK Records.), CD.

[7] Michael C. Meyers, and C. Matthew Laurent, Jr., “The rodeo athlete: injuries–Part II,” Sports Medicine, 40.10 (2010): 817-834.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Zoltan Istvan. Facing the Bull: The Most Dangerous Eight Seconds in Sports. National Geographic, February 25, 2004. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/02/0225_040225_TVbullrider.html

[10] Kody Lostroh, interview by Michael De Yoanna, Bull riding increasingly dangerous, says world champ bull rider Kody Lostroh, Colorado Public Radio, January 16, 2015.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Elsie Frost, interview by Rob Cater, Mother of Famed Bull Rider Lane Frost, 95.7 KKAJ FM, January 2014.

[15] “Remembering Lane Frost,” Frost Enterprises, accessed September 25, 2015, http://www.lanefrost.com/index.htm

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