Bull Riding, The Most Dangerous 8 Seconds In Sports

Taking a weekly look at some of the fringe sports that can rack you up some dough.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Let me tell you, if I had to chose between losing control of a NASCAR car and getting into a 5 car pile-up, being tossed a football with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs bearing down on me, or riding an angry bull for eight seconds, I can easily say that the bull would not be the first or second choice of the three. No, I can definitely say that I will NEVER hop on a bull in any capacity, let alone a professional one.

But that's me. For others, however, it's not just a do-it thing, it's a way of life.

Professional Bull riding, called the most dangerous 8 seconds in sports, is a rodeo sport that involves a person getting on an angry, very large bull, and trying to stay on as the bull wildly bucks, hops, and stomps in an attempt to dislodge the annoying human on its back. When the rider gets on the bull, he or she fastens one hand to the animal with a braided rope and tries, in the American tradition, to stay atop it for a full eight seconds.

While the rider is wildly clinging to the frenzied bull, two judges are scoring the ride. One judge is scoring the person while the other is scoring the bull. They are looking for such things as how smooth the rider looks and how in control he is as well as the ferocity of the bull and if it is really trying hard to buck the rider. For any points to be rewarded, however, a full eight seconds have to pass with the rider doing his thing.

8 seconds doesn't sound like much, but for these riders, that small amount of time expands into an eternity as they try to master their bull while avoiding injury. And make no mistake about it, injuries happen all the time. When you're involving an animal as large as a bull and the possible tossing of the rider, who is attached to the bull with a rope, then that's a recipe for broken bones, or worse.

To help the riders and to provide crowd entertainment, the sports utilizes rodeo clowns to help keep the bull in check once the ride is over. Their job is to distract the bulls when the rider dismounts, whether by his choice or the animals, giving them time to exit the area.

Bull riding is no joke. It's dangerous, time consuming with all the traveling to tournaments, and can lead to a number of broken bones and medical issues. But with all that comes the chance to earn good money for the top riders in the professional field. As an average, riders on the professional tour usually earn in excess of $150,000 a year and if you are at the top of your sport, that figure raises quite a bit.

In fact, Brazilian Renato Nunes earned a fat $1,594,527 doing it.

Not bad for 8 seconds of work, don't you think?

No, I can honestly say that bull riding is definitely not for me but I have to recognize the bravery (lunacy?) of those that chose this way of life. It's a hard, dangerous sport but for those that do it well, it's also very satisfying… and very rewarding.