Sunday, November 23, 2014

The hidden Hall of Fame

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Rodeo Clown performing in the Clark County Fair and Rodeo a Professional Rodeo held in Logandale, Nevada  on April 10 2014. - KOBBY DAGAN / SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock
  • Rodeo Clown performing in the Clark County Fair and Rodeo a Professional Rodeo held in Logandale, Nevada on April 10 2014.
There is an unassuming, two-lane stretch of road that wiggles its way through northern Colorado Springs residences, winds through a few technologically inspired businesses with wide parking lots on towards the Garden of the Gods corridor. It’s called Delmonico Drive on its northern, residential leg; Tech Center Drive near its end. But there is an eye-blink stretch of this otherwise vanilla road called Pro Rodeo Drive, it runs as a gateway to the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.

It wouldn’t surprise me if many Colorado Springs residents were unaware that there’s a national sports hall of fame set right in the middle of our city. Much like its major sport HOF brethren, you expect it to be a spot where it stood out, noticeable, an obvious destination for those die-hard fans to call Mecca. Instead, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame is more of a place that you stumble upon while exploring our forgotten frontage roads trying to avoid highways. This, from a sport that employs vaudevillian-type clown performers whose sole job is to draw attention from and goad enormous animals as a part of the spectacle.

Miles Hare, a legendary rodeo clown, was inducted into the hall of fame this past August after defending cowboys from angry bulls and broncos for a third of a century. In discovering the duties and demands of a rodeo clown — or bullfighter, as they’re more often referred to in this day and age — one thing became immediately clear: this, along with every other aspect of the rodeo, is a sport I wouldn’t have the guts to even attempt.

I’d be willing to toss a football on a lazy Sunday afternoon, pass a puck, volley a tennis ball, or even be talked into joining some sort of past-their-prime intramural league in order to excite my competitive spirit. But I can see myself climbing Mt. Everest or swimming the English Channel before perching myself on the bare back of an about-to-be bucking bronco. (In case you were wondering, climbing Everest or swimming the channel are pretty low odds for me.)

If sports were measured by the bravery of their competitors, not the lucrative nature of their stars and franchises, then rodeo would rank high above most everything else.

We’re inundated with the faces and storylines of the major sports in this country and spend so much time on football, basketball, baseball and NASCAR that rodeo isn’t worth an afternoon’s walkthrough. Though maybe it should be.

So, if ever you’re log-jammed on I-25 between Woodmen and Garden of the Gods, remember that there’s a detour that will take you into the lives and stories of the characters in a truly wild sport. That is, if you can find the place.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.

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