It's rodeo season in Texas. It's a good thing too. Football season is at least four months away. Rodeo is the official sport of Texas. It is not football. On the surface, rodeo and football seem to be as different as night and day.

Football is played on a rectangular field. The rodeo takes place in a circular arena. I must have ADD because I just stopped to consider how exciting football might become if played in a circular arena. You could argue that the Dallas Cowboys being "Cowboys" might have an advantage if it were.

Besides, they seemed to be running in circles all season.

Another difference between football and the rodeo is the ball. Football is about the football. Rodeo uses horses, bulls, or barrels. Purists will insist that there is no tackling in the rodeo. I would disagree. Steer roping looks like tackling.

Despite all the differences, the rodeo and football have a lot of similarities.

Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash Photo: alessandroguerriero Source Getty Stock / ThinkStock
Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash
Photo: alessandroguerriero
Source Getty Stock / ThinkStock

Bulls and steers are big hulking animals. Offensive and defensive linemen are big hulking animals. NFL player Aaron Gibson weighed 410 pounds. The average weight of a steer used in steer wrestling is between 450 and 650 pounds. Not that much difference.

Football players wear numbers. Rodeo participants also wear identifying numbers.

There are penalties in football and the rodeo. Two of them are called the same thing. Both football and the rodeo have a delay of game and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

In the rodeo, a delay of game happens when they take too long to complete a course or knock over a barrel. In football, a postponement of the game means the offense is involved in a different form of  "horsing around" Unsportsmanlike conduct in football includes taunting or trash-talking or excessive celebrations after a play, or using abusive language.

In the rodeo, being unsportsmanlike can involve other competitors or animals.

In both rodeo and football, there are officials. Football officials have whistles and striped shirts. Rodeo officials wear Western-style clothing and may have badges or other identifying markers to indicate their official status. They do not carry whistles. Bulls don't like whistles. Neither do quarterbacks.

Like football, in some rodeos, officials use video instant replay. In bull riding, if the judges are unsure whether the rider made a qualified ride, they may review video footage to determine if the rider stays on the bull for the required 8 seconds.

Additionally, in events such as team roping and steer wrestling, an instant replay may be used to review a run if there is a question about whether the rules were followed.

There are no cheerleaders in the rodeo. Rodeos do have rodeo queens. Rodeo queens often represent their sport and participate in parades and rodeo events. They do not carry pompoms. It's probably good since bulls get agitated and will charge at sudden movements and bright colors.

Credit Scott Lewis Photo: IPGGutenbergUKLtd Source Getty Stock / ThinkStock
Scott Lewis
Photo: IPGGutenbergUKLtd
Source Getty Stock / ThinkStock

Come to think of it, so do some running backs.

One could argue that football and the rodeo have clowns, although they are used differently. Rodeo clowns entertain the crowds during intermission and are often used as part of the safety team to distract and divert the attention of the bulls or other animals away from fallen riders or participants who may be in danger.

There can also be clowns in the stands. They're the ones wearing way too much Mary Kay.

Football teams have something similar. They have mascots. Like rodeo clowns, often their job is to distract and divert the attention of angry crowds, coaches, and players when officials make an idiot call.

Football and the rodeo both require physical and mental stamina. In the rodeo, skill is essential, but equally important is predicting the actions of wild animals. In football, talent is necessary, but predicting human actions is equally important.

I, for one, would prefer to take my chances trying to figure out a wild animal any day.

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