Slow and steady wins the race. ~ Aesop’s Fables
Sports have always played a big part in my life. I grew up playing a variety of sports, was actually pretty good a couple of them, and still today love the competitive side of all types of sports. I admire those individuals who dedicate their lives to becoming their best at their chosen sport, whether it be throwing a football, swinging a bat, hitting a three-pointer with a defender in your face, winning a unanimous twelve round decision or even a ninety pound gymnast sticking her landing. I often use sports as a metaphor to write about whatever self-development subject is on my mind. But I rarely get to write anything about my favorite sport – professional bull riding.
I grew up competing in local rodeos and have long loved bull riding, but twenty years ago a group of bull riders met in a hotel room and laid the plans to form the PBR and took this sport I so love to the next level. It is the ultimate challenge – man against beast. Perhaps the main reason I have developed such a deep admiration for the sport is that by the time I was seventeen, I was much too big to ever again try to strap myself onto the back of a bull. You just don’t see 200+ pound bull riders or bull riders over 6’ tall. The centrifugal force is simply too great for a person of my stature. The beast is going to win every time. These diminutive men are often less than 150 lbs, but they are some kind of tough.
It’s not uncommon to watch PBR riders strapping themselves down onto a 2,000 pound bull sporting a broken foot or broken ribs, or even a jaw wired shut. It’s not like other sports where players are under contract. If these guys don’t ride, they don’t make money to support their families. Then there are the bulls. In the old days, we used to gather up some old ranchers range bulls to practice on. Some of them bucked hard, some of them didn’t. Today, the sport has evolved and the bull business is big business. These behemoths are bred to buck. In my humble opinion, a bull on the circuit now called Bushwacker is the greatest athlete alive today. He is simply explosive.
But enough about why I love the sport – let me get to the point of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare and how slow and steady wins the race. In a few days, Las Vegas will be witness the 20th PBR Championship. This year, there are two riders in contention, JB Mauney and Silvano Alves. Alves currently holds about a 1,000 point lead is likely to win his 3rd consecutive championship. He is the only rider to ever even win back-to-back championships. The two riders couldn’t be more different in their riding styles.
JB Mauney is a fan favorite. He is flashy. He has conquered the best of the best. The last two bulls to win Bull of the Year honors are the aforementioned Bushwacker and another bull called Asteroid. Mauney is the only rider to ever ride either of them. Bushwacker had 42 consecutive buck-offs when Mauney conquered him earlier this year for a 94.25 score. Mauney is known for throwing caution to the wind and riding the unridable. On the other hand, although I know he has, I don’t recall ever seeing Alves with a 90 point score. If Mauney is the hare, Alves is the tortoise. It’s exciting to watch Mauney ride, but watching Alves is kind of boring. He may not be flashy and he may not put up huge scores, but he holds on and has the highest riding percentage of them all.
The two remind me of another sport back in 1967 when the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers met on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field – what became known as the Ice Bowl. The Cowboys were flashy. Everyone loved watching them because you never knew when Dandy Don Meredith might connect with Bob Hayes for a 90 yard bomb or Mel Renfro might pick off a Bart Starr pass. The Packers on the other hand, under the strict tutelage of Vince Lombardi, were boring. They were methodical. They were slow and steady. And they won.
So what’s the message here? Aesop explained it 2 millennia ago – slow and steady wins the race. The lesson applies to every aspect of life and business. Flashy may draw the crowds, but methodically attacking life and business one step at a time will win the championship. Think of the husband who wines and dines his wife on the weekends, buys her lavish gifts and takes her to exotic places, but threats her like a second class citizen behind closed doors. Or think of the businesses that rule the headlines with their incredible accomplishments only to fall by the wayside because they looked for shortcuts and were not consistent. Think Enron. Being flashy might make you a fan favorite, but slow and steady wins the race.
I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks as the PBR Championship play out, and who knows, Mauney, who is a perennial second place finisher, may just have his day, but my money is on slow and steady.
- World Title Race Gets Even Closer (nvilloria.wordpress.com)
- Bucking bull Bushwacker at the top of his field (sfgate.com)
- Twenty Years of Bulls in Vegas (nvilloria.wordpress.com)
- Field set to contend for World Champion Bull title as PBR World Finals begin (examiner.com)