Why I keep going to Professional Bull Riders at the Enterprise Center

| Contributing Writer

In early December, Professional Bull Riders, commonly known as PBR, came through St. Louis’s Enterprise Center, as it has annually.

I stumbled into PBR the fall of my freshman year. Looking for things to do one weekend, I went to the Enterprise Center’s website looking for Blues games or concerts. I found PBR. Not knowing what it was, I thought I would give it a try, since that night’s Tyler the Creator concert was sold out. Asking a few of my friends, not thinking anyone would want to come, I eventually convinced eight of my friends to go. I loved it so much I went again the next day for the second round. 

This is my third year going to the event and I plan on going again next year. Immediately one notices the crowd. It feels like a convention for the TV show Yellowstone: bell-bottom jeans, cowboy boots and hats, eye-catching vests, and more. PBR is definitely a family event, hosting everyone from baby cowboys and cowgirls to grandpa and grandma cowpeople. The show’s beginning was reminiscent of the pageantry of wrestling: words lit in fire, fireworks, and the world’s top bull riders being showcased and introduced in the center of it. At the beginning, I was a bit worried. People were laying out rope and dousing it in propane — I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. The stadium went dark and then a full pyrotechnic show, fireworks, bangs, letters in fire and more. While not too long, it set up the entire event, introducing the riders, their successes and giving background as to who to cheer the loudest for. It was classic American fun. 

There is surprisingly little pageantry during the bull riding portion of the event, rather focusing on the sport itself. The scoring works as such: for the rider to get a score, they must ride the bull for eight seconds. Only the riding done in those eight seconds gets scored. The rider is scored out of 50 for a myriad of factors, including technique and control. Regardless of the rider’s outcome, the bull is also scored out of 50. If a rider scores, his overall score is a combination of the rider and bull score. An excellent score is a 90, a good score is a 85. The duality of scoring allows the audience to root for the rider or the bull, as there is a riding championship and a bull championship, both for significant prize money. I went on the first day, and while the top score was an 88.75, not quite cracking 90, there were still plenty of good rides. The winner of the event, Cassio Dias, won almost 45 thousand dollars, scoring a 90.5 in the playoff round on Sunday. All-time great, João Ricardo Vieira, failed to score in the tournament. Top bull scorers were Man Hater, with a 46.5; Flyin Wired with a 45; and Night Hawk with a 44.5.  

PBR feels like a sporting event. For those who love sports, it is a must. For those who do not, it is still readily understandable and one can have fun cheering with the crowd and witnessing the pyrotechnics. 

While bull riding is fun, it could also be triggering for some, with many denouncing the sport as animal abuse. Further, bull riding has sponsorships from organizations like the US Border Patrol. 

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at PBR. It’s a fun, interesting sport to watch once a year and introduce to my friends. With tickets coming in at $20 or cheaper on resale, it is an event I will definitely return to next year. 

Illustration by Ryan Davis

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