Friday evening 16-year-old Brooke Ann Coats was competing in a rodeo in Tampa, Florida. During the bull-riding competition she was thrown, and the animal kicked her in the chest. She managed to get up and walk out of the arena, but 90 minutes later she was dead.
The images of the vibrant teenage and news of her senseless death are heartbreaking. I think of her parents who gave her permission to participate in this dangerous sport, and are now going to have to live with their guilt and without their daughter for the rest of their lives. If there is any good to come from this tragic event it has to be to highlight the real dangers of this cruel and unpredictable sport, and perhaps save others from a similar fate.
Extreme sports are one thing, and I'd never try to intervene if my children wanted to go rock climbing, or sky diving, or try any other sport of endurance, even if there were risks. But rodeos are a whole other "animal" because they involve animals -- animals that are unpredictable and powerful and can potentially kill -- especially when provoked.
Not to mention the treatment of the poor animals. I grew up in the Midwest; I've been to rodeos and know the passion people have for them. But I've never been able to get past the cruelty involved for the animals -- for no good reason. I don't always agree with PETA and some of their extremist tactics, but when it comes to rodeos, I do. Their site states: "... rodeos are nothing more than manipulative displays of human domination over animals, thinly disguised as entertainment." I have never seen any argument that adequately refutes those charges.
PETA also highlights the torment animals are subjected to:
Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos. The flank, or “bucking,” strap or rope—which is used to make horses and bulls buck—is tightly cinched around their abdomens, which causes the animals to “buck vigorously to try to rid themselves of the torment. The irritation causes the animals to buck violently, which is what the rodeo promoters want them to do in order to put on a good show for the crowds.
Much like some circuses, and all of it is inexcusable.
Nothing will bring back this 16-year-old girl; nothing will give her the life that laid ahead of her. We can only hope that perhaps her story will spark changes that will rid our nation of rodeos or least make changes in which the lives of humans and animals aren't put on the line just for a show. Rodeos don't need to happen; and Brook Ann Coats didn't need to die.
Condolences to her family and friends.
Do you think young people should be allowed to participate in rodeos? Do you think rodeos in general are wrong?
Image via Monica Ray/Flickr