Here it is the end of another year with the Wrangler National Finals on tap to determine who the PRCA year-end champion will be. Also the World Series multi-million dollar roping at the South Point Equestrian Center will be making many team ropers happy with their huge payout. This year again shows the popularity of team roping by record payouts across the country and the top 15 showing big dollars won so far, and now the chance to add more big winnings with the lucrative WNFR payout.

We were saddened to hear of the loss of some big names in the team roping world. Louis Tavaglione of Riverside, Calif. passed away after a brief illness. He was 90 years old and has always been a strong supporter of team roping over the years. Louie was one of my long-time friends and supported Ropers Sports News from the first issue in 1968. Louie was the inspiration and founder of the Riverside Rancheros, which is a very successful horse club in the Riverside area. Over the years, Louie hosted many events and was a strong voice in the team roping world early on. When I first met him in 1968, I told him of my idea of a team roping publication for the industry and wanted him to advertise in the first issue. He informed me that the Riverside Rancheros had a mailing list and reached their contestants by mailing them an entry blank in the mail. I informed him that we could print their entry blank in the paper and many more people would see it. I also would send it to all of his members for free the first month to make sure they got it. This would save them postage, plus the expense of printing entry blanks. After some thought, he agreed to provide me with their mailing list and took an ad in the very first four-page issue of our publication.
After that we became good friends and he was always sure to be a great host whenever I was in the area. Louie had some great ideas in the early days of team roping and worked with the other big ropings over the years. In the early days the big ropings were Riverside in January, Dr. Falks in February, Chowchilla in March, Reno in May, Santa Maria in June, and then Oakdale finished the year in September. Las Vegas also hosted some big ropings at the Stardust Hotel and Casino along with Arizona having the Roer Ropathon produced by Bill Roer. Most of these ropings were open ropings and in the early ’70s some started adding century ropings. Louie was one of the pioneers in the team roping world and donated countless hours to many organizations. He will be greatly missed but not forgotten.
Another loss to the team roping world was the passing of Bob Tuley, publisher of the The Arizona Jackpot. Bob served the team roping community in Arizona with his publication for over 15 years. He loved to team rope and team pen and always had a great since of humor. We here at RSN had a great relationship with Bob and would share needs of the industry with each other. Although we were in a sense, competitors in business, he would always give me a warm welcome to any roping event in Arizona and ask if he could help in any way. Rest in peace my friend.
Unfortunately at press time, we also received word of the passing of two other men who were icons in the the ranch and rodeo industry, John Roen and Jim Martins. Our prayers and sympathy to the friends and family of all these great men.

Breakaway roping has had a stellar year, reaching new competitions in many pro rodeos and major roping events. In years past it seemed to only be present in junior, high school, all girl and college rodeo competition. With the efforts of many of the competitors, the women have made this event one of rodeo’s main crowd pleasers. There is far more skill than one would think in this event, and nowadays one must be mounted right to win in the big circle of competition. I can only see this event getting larger and it is one of the least expensive events to get into versus team roping or barrel racing. Look to see breakaway to continue to explode, and thanks to all of those venues that hosted the event this past year.

Some of the smaller ropings in the country have been down in numbers this year and there are many factors that I believe have lead to this. Many ropers tend to give up going to the smaller jackpots and save themselves for the bigger ropings that pay more. Granted the bigger ropings pay more but the cost of entering and preparing for them plus the travel is far greater. Some ropers like the fact that the bigger ropings tend to hold out less for stock and administration charges than the smaller ropings based on the percentage withheld.
In the early days of team roping, most ropers got their practice in by going to a small jackpot as there wasn’t near as many private arenas where one could practice. Some ropers were everyday working cowboys and roped for their day jobs. Today many ropers have their own arena at home and don’t go to the smaller jackpots. Those smaller roping arenas used to be a place to take a young horse or in some places they used to have practice nights or had an hour of practice prior to the regular pots. Also many rodeo ropers would go to the weekday ropings to win some extra cash for the weekend of rodeoing.
Ropers need to keep in mind that smaller ropings need to hold out more to cover expenses. Some ropings may have to hold out more when roping for less. Back in the day when producers were holding out 1/3, some producers would up the entry fees in some ropings to make more money. This became the norm and at the expense of the roper. Thus the cost of roping went up immensely but everyone was expecting the big win which would make everything worthwhile. As time went on, competition for the ropers got stronger so some larger ropings held out less to attract more ropers.
When I say that the producers who rope for a smaller entry fee should hold out more, I am saying that if a roping is for only, say $10 per man, then that producer may have to hold out as much as 60% to make ends meet. That is okay for the roper is still getting runs plus could win a little to cover his expenses. I wish that there was a formula that would be fair to both the producer and competitor for longevity of the sport and the smaller producers. Keep in mind, too, that the prizeline is also a factor.

Being the month of December many will be attending the World Series Ropings at the South Point this month, hoping to win some of the big prize money offered this year. Thanks to the ingenuity of Denny and Connie Gentry, this event has been one for the record books. Word has it that this great husband and wife team will be stepping down from the helm after this year’s competition. I commend them for all the years of dedication they have given to our industry in the form of success for all involved. I first met them at a roping in New Mexico produced by the late Bill Hill who had a vision of better things for the roping world. Denny was working with Bill handling the great prizeline and general organization of the event. From then on Denny and Connie continued to create new horizons in the industry for ropers and producers. With a lot of help from many people, they have continued to make many changes to the roping industry. Over the years Denny and I have gone back on forth on agreeing and disagreeing on many issues with both of us wanting what was good for the roping industry. We never agreed on the open roping competition, for Denny knew that the future of roping organizations was with volume and that came from the hobbyist roper. We have had many great differences over the years and have remained friends in spite of our views.
I want to thank the Gentrys for all of their years of work in trying to improve the sport of team roping. I wish them all the luck in world and hope they go and enjoy the many things outside of the arena. I’m sure what they have cultivated in the industry will continue on for many years to come.



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