Monday, January 3, 2011


Back in the 40s and 50s dunk shots became common in the sport of basketball. Unlike today, a 7 ft tall center was freakish and could dominate the floor (hence the reason goal tending became illegal and dunk shots were band in college basketball from 1967-1976). To combat dominating giants, shorter and/or slower guys developed their long-distance shot and soon 3-point shots came into play.

As a spectator I enjoy every aspect of the game of basketball. The thrill of a fast break, a perfectly timed and placed pass, the mighty slam dunk, the elegant swish of a three point drop, the mental challenge of a free throw, the spontaneous juke…you name it, all of which compose the game.

The capability of NBA’s 3-point shooters is close to 50% these days. Impending mastery of 3-point shots prompts the NBA league to increase the challenge by periodically expanding its 3-point arc. Imagine if all shooters resorted to half court buckets. What kind of game would it be? Exciting? Maybe, for a minute, but nowhere near the capacity of challenge intended the sport. Player fundamentals would be reduced to a rocket-launch from back court, leaving ball tending/working the court a lost art. The sport would not hold the same capacity of challenge because of its narrowed focus of offense. Therefore, the league continues to preserve balance instigating all aspects of the game.

Just like in basketball, team ropers are constantly pushing the envelope with their long-shot creativity and ability. Certainly successful long-shots will always be spectacular. They were back in the day of HP Evetts, and they still are today. And certainly half-court (team roping) shots are appropriate and appreciated in confined setups like the Thomas and Mac, but it’s not the reality-roping for Salinas, Cheyenne, Pendleton, etc., or the open range. Unfortunately, about the only exposure to team roping our world gets is the televised National Finals. New-generation ropers watch the shark fest in the T & M tank and take on it’s “furious-roping” idea believing it’s the way. They feed on “how-to” articles written by their heroes about knock’n barriers and cut’n corners, even utilizing the force of one’s horse coming off the back of the box to send your loop. Rarely do their heroes promote or share advice on how to be versatile, solid, or consistent, much less the importance of “safety.“ Because most ropers today are arena competitors, not actual “cowboys”, they want speed and limit their (and their horse’s) development to short, quick runs with total disregard for proper mechanics and team dynamics.

The team roping we see today is not what the event was originated to be, but speaking about its authenticity is like speaking a foreign language. Today’s arena is a different time and place. Creativity and phenomenal skill aside, I’m talking about today’s competition A.D.D. and lack of event integrity. As the NBA’s 3-point arc boundary continues to expand, honorable adjustments in the roping arena are nonexistent. It seems cattle get smaller, horse & roper athletes get bigger and better, yet barriers remain short, and money gets shelled out in the wrong direction.

I commend NFR team roping producers for recognizing the need for enforcing the challenge of one loop, but what a roping we’d see if the NFR were to restore the “team” principle in the T & M and revive the game. I propose they lengthen that score a ways, pull a heeler barrier the same as the header’s, oblige competitors to utilize those expensive, 4-legged team members to their maximum potential, and then NFR-boys, let’s rope! Match the best headers & heelers in the world against cattle that finally have some kind of advantage. Give them talented boys an opponent other than themselves. Would it happen?

Most likely not, because only today’s real roper cowboy would understand and appreciate the significance of meeting such challenges, and only he would applaud and call it, “A hell of a run.”

That’s all I know…
Rope Smart!
The Lion
Leo Camarillo Horse & Cattle LLC