Thomas P Oates (10)
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8. Exploiting Nationalism and Banal Cosmopolitanism: EA’s FIFA World Cup 2010

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Andrew Baerg

SPORT AND ITS REPRESENTATION IN MEDIA HAVE LONG BEEN A site for the communication and perpetuation of national identity. International mediated sporting events such as the Olympics and World Cup have tended to become sites allowing for the expression of myths about collective, national identities. As such, it might be expected that this tight relationship between sport and the nation-state would continue in the comparatively new medium of the sports video game, especially one representing a competition between nations.

This chapter addresses this argument by performing a textual analysis of Electronic Arts’ soccer video game 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa (hereafter FIFA WC10) in order to learn how it positions its users. By working through and applying cosmopolitan theory and then applying this theory to the text, the chapter argues that FIFA WC10 departs from a traditionally national orientation to the mediation of world soccer toward a cosmopolitan mediation of the sport. As such, rather than position players as national subjects, FIFA WC10’s various gameplay options position its users as global, cosmopolitan subjects.

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2. Madden Men: Masculinity, Race, and the Marketing of a Video Game Franchise

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Thomas P. Oates

IN AUGUST 2012, AS THE RELEASE OF EA SPORTSMADDEN NFL 13 video game approached, a months-long marketing blitz peaked with a series of advertisements featuring actor Paul Rudd and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. In the campaign, the two are presented as close, lifelong friends, whose bond is cemented by periodic Madden NFL marathons. The ads are clearly presented with tongue firmly in cheek. The friendship between Rudd and Lewis is offered as a whimsical premise. Rudd is a recognizable film and television actor, best known for roles playing middle-class white professionals. While appearing to be reasonably fit, he would never be mistaken for an NFL player, and though his movies are frequently about masculine themes (see, for example, I Love You, Man; The 40-Year Old Virgin; and Forgetting Sarah Marshall), he has never played the role of an action hero. Lewis, meanwhile, is black, was raised in poverty by a single mother in Lakeland, Florida, and was a major NFL star at the time, and hence a visible representative of hegemonic masculinity. The joke turns on the premise that despite the seemingly unbridgeable gaps separating affluence from poverty, white from black, icons of masculinity from the average guy, Rudd and Lewis are improbably buddies. Their friendship goes back to the cradle, as Rudd explains in the first ad in the series: “Oh, man, Ray and I have known each other our whole lives. We grew up together. Best friends!” The rest of the campaign shows the two friends playing the video game, engaging in verbal dueling, boasting, and performing other acts that characterize a certain kind of friendly masculine competition.

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3. Neoliberal Masculinity: The Government of Play and Masculinity in E-Sports

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Gerald Voorhees

We’re at a point where only about forty people in the U.S. can make a living playing video games. I’d like to get it to a hundred. I think we’re a year or two away from that.

SUNDANCE DIGIOVANNI, quoted in Richard Nieva,
“Video Gaming on the Pro Tour for Glory but Little
Gold,” New York Times, November 28, 2012

While scholars have begun to investigate the professionalization of gaming, I take it on only to the extent that it is an exemplary site for thinking about the sportification of digital games, a broader sociocultural phenomenon that emerges at the juncture of neoliberal rationality and distinct – often competing – constructions of masculinity circulating in contemporary Western culture. Indeed, the sportification of digital games has led to the creation of national leagues, international tournaments, and corporate-sponsored teams of professional cyberathletes, but it is not rooted in these institutions or in the professionalization of players; rather, they are both effects of the hegemony of the sportive mentality. The games are objective things defined by protocological affordances and constrains, but their status as sport and the practices constituting the process of sportification are a result of the meaning attributed to them by player and fan communities.1 In this chapter I examine the cultural implications of the figuration of digital games as sports, often called e-sports, focusing on the production of an intelligible subject position at the nexus of neoliberalism and masculinity.

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7. Keeping It Real: Sports Video Game Advertising and the Fan-Consumer

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Cory Hillman and Michael L. Butterworth

IN THE UNITED STATES, FEW, IF ANY, CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, products, or experiences are immune to the often unrestrained hands of commercialism, marketing, and advertising in the ambitious and overzealous pursuit of audiences and consumers. Sports are especially subject to these conditions, evidenced by the following examples: advertisers spent approximately $10.9 billion on national sports broadcasts between the final quarter of 2010 through September 2011; NBC paid the International Olympic Committee $2.2 billion to broadcast the 2010 and 2012 Winter and Summer Olympics; CBS and Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay nearly $11 billion to the NCAA for the rights to the annual men’s college basketball tournament. Divisional realignment in college football has also been stimulated by the desire to create “megaconferences” in the chase for lucrative television packages with major networks, and the NCAA’s decision to determine its national champion of college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision with a four-team playoff beginning in 2014 came with estimates that the tournament could be worth as much as $6 billion.1 Meanwhile, fans spent $3.2 billion on Major League Baseball (MLB) team merchandise in 2011, marking an 8.1 percent increase from the previous season, and the typical NFL fan spends approximately $60 on apparel, snacks, and other merchandise during the week of the Super Bowl.2

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1. The Name of the Game Is Jocktronics: Sport and Masculinity in Early Video Games

Thomas P Oates Indiana University Press ePub

Michael Z. Newman

ALTHOUGH IT MAY NEVER BE SETTLED WHICH VIDEO GAME deserves to be called the first, it’s notable that two games based on racquet sports always come up in talk of the medium’s origins. Tennis for Two, a demonstration using an analog computer and an oscilloscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory (1958), and Pong, the first hit coin-operated game from Atari (1972), are in some ways quite similar.1 Both are competitions between two players given the ability to direct the movement of a ball, which bounces back and forth between them. Both are examples of sports games, a genre that would prove to be among the most enduring, enjoyable, and lucrative in the history of electronic play. And both can be placed within a tradition of masculine amusements adapted from professional athletics, which had already been popular in American society in penny arcades and around gaming tables for more than a half century when electronic games were new. We can regard Pong not just as an early and influential video game, but as part of a history of sports simulations and adaptations and as an electronic version of tavern and rec room amusements such as pool and Ping-Pong, from which it gets its name.

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The Herald Times (24)
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Indiana VS. Kentucky, 12-10-11 (73-72)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Christian Watford (2) hits the game winning last second shot over Kentucky Wildcats guard Darius Miller (1) during the Indiana Kentucky men’s basketball game at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011. Indiana won 73-72.

By Dustin Dopirak

Within seconds of his picture-perfect, buzzer-beating 3-pointer’s contact with the net on Assembly Hall’s north goal, Christian Watford was prone on the floor and swimming in an ocean of human catharsis.

The Indiana student section didn’t so much storm the court after the Hoosiers stunned No. 1 Kentucky, 73-72, as swallow it whole. The mayhem built outward from the spot where Watford fell on the floor near the scorer’s table on the west sideline and kept getting bigger until fans covered every single wood panel on Branch McCracken Court at Assembly Hall from end to end.

Fans were singing along with the pep band and lifting each other on their shoulders and trying to find players and coaches to whom to express their gratitude. Watford and several of his teammates escaped from beneath the crush of humanity only to bathe in its glow, standing atop the scorer’s table and gesturing to the crowd as if directing some joyful orchestra.

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Indiana AT Minnesota, 2-26-12 (69-50)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Will Sheehey (10) rips down the rebound as Minnesota Golden Gophers guard Austin Hollins (20) defends during the Indiana Minnesota basketball game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn., Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012. Indiana won 69-50.

By Dustin Dopirak

Tom Crean had prepared himself for exactly this sort of occasion.

The Indiana coach has long been one to let his team play through tough stretches instead of calling a timeout. That’s burned him on several occasions this year in Big Ten road games—most notably during the loss at Nebraska—when teams were able to extend runs with the home crowd behind them, and he vowed not to let that happen again.

But when Minnesota opened Sunday’s game with back-to-back 3-pointers, Crean went with his gut and his base philosophy and let his team play.

“One of my notes to myself in big letters is, ‘Do not let them get on a run, go timeout early,’” Crean said. “But I didn’t want to do that to my team at 6-0, because they were so ready to play. There was no doubt about it.”

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Big Ten Tournament: Indiana VS. Wisconsin, 3-9-12 (71-79)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) manages to keep control of the ball and hit the bucket as Wisconsin Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz (31) defends during the Indiana Wisconsin men’s basketball game at the Big Ten Tournament at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., Friday, March 9, 2012.

By Dustin Dopirak

Of course the dagger came from Rob Wilson. How else could this one have possibly ended? On just about every previous occasion in the second half when Indiana threatened to finally erase Wisconsin’s lead, the previously anonymous Wisconsin senior guard stepped up with a huge shot to knock the Hoosiers’ back. It was only fitting that he would hit the shot to bury them.

And that was exactly what happened with 35 seconds to go when Wilson swished a rainbow 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 72-65 lead, effectively crushing the Hoosiers’ hopes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. That shot gave Wilson, who came into the game averaging 3.1 points per game, a career high 30 points, and the Badgers hit enough free throws to take a 79-71 victory in front of 18,484 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and advance to today’s 1:40 p.m. semifinal against Michigan State.

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Zeller Makes Most of Putting on Freshman 15

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

By Dustin Dopirak

Take 15 pounds and spread it over a 6-foot-11 body, and you’re only talking about a few ounces per inch. The difference between a 215-pound man and a 230-pound man of that height can be noticeable, but only if that man happens to wear tank tops as a standard practice.

When trying to explain the difference between where this Indiana team was expected to finish and where it is, that’s where the conversation starts. With the 15 pounds of muscle Cody Zeller put on his 6-11 frame from the time he arrived in Bloomington last May until the season started in November.

To say the freshman forward from Washington is the only reason the Hoosiers morphed from a 12-20 squad last season to the 27-8 team that’s currently preparing for its first Sweet 16 game since 2002 is to grossly undervalue the contributions of so many of his teammates, and for that matter, his coach.

But Zeller’s gains in weight and strength may have been the most important development of this season, simply because it made all the rest of the pieces fit. Going from 215 to 230 allowed Zeller to play center instead of power forward, where many expected him to play, which allowed the Hoosiers to put five scorers on the floor and allow everyone to play roles that made sense.

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Stats

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

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Ron Tatum (40)
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Reflections Before Charging Ahead

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Reflections Before
Charging Ahead

That sentence about my daddy’s influence has got me to thinking. Maybe before I go any further, I should try to figure out exactly why I’ve taken the paths I have. What were the influences that drove me toward horses and hard physical work, while at the same time driving me toward a bunch of graduate degrees? I’m pretty sure my dad had a lot to say about all this, but his influence also had some subtle aspects to it.

He started me off doing pushups probably about the time I first opened my eyes. I could pound the stuffings out of all my little friends by the time I was six months old. No one messed with me!

When I got older, Daddy didn’t push me into sports even though he had been a professional football player, a boxer, an Olympic-caliber track man, etc. He was the complete athlete and had no insecurities on that score. I felt an unspoken push toward sports, but he who always talked with a loud and dominating voice never got on my case if I didn’t excel in a sport, or even if I dropped out of one in mid-season. He was always pleased with any athletic trophies or prizes I won, but never showed any disappointment in me if I failed. In fact one time when I only got second in a company picnic contest where I usually won everything, he blamed himself. That was an unusual event where my dad had to lie down on his back in the center of a circle of kids and whirl a big hawser rope around in a circle about a foot off the ground. The rope was 20 feet long and it must have been an incredible feat for him to swing it around as each kid tried to jump the rope as it swung by. If the kid tripped, he or she was eliminated. It finally came down to just me and another kid, and neither of us seemed to be tiring. Daddy told me to take off my jacket, and as I was doing that, I tripped on the rope as it came around. Afterwards my dad said it was his fault for asking me to take off my jacket. I was surprised.

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Horses and Marines

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Horses and Marines

Another experience I had with horses before I really understood them, was on active duty in the Marine Corps. The Marines don’t usually have a need for horses, but at one base I was the officer in charge of the stables at the Marine Corps mountain survival school, located high in the Sierra mountains of California. I was one of three officers and seven enlisted men who taught at the school. It was great duty. We taught skiing all winter long, often on skis for fifteen hours a day. And we taught rock climbing during the summer months. Our students were Marines from bases all over the world, many of whom had never seen snow, and some of them didn’t know they had a fear of heights until they took our summer course. I was the only officer up to that time who completed a tour of duty at that base and never ended up in the hospital.

I was assigned to be in charge of the horses before I even knew what their purpose was. Some of my friends and I used to race them across the rocky meadows at an insane full gallop, but what the hell, we were Marines, weren’t we? Besides, if we fell and injured ourselves we wouldn’t have to risk our necks climbing around on those 1000-foot cliffs where we held our classes.

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Going It Alone

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Going It Alone

That experience on the mountain taught me a lesson that comes in handy as a horseshoer. Up there, hanging off the cliff, I was alone. No one was going to save me or get me out of that spot. Just me. Horseshoeing is a lot like that. I don’t mean that shoeing horses is facing death every day, but it’s an occupation that you do mostly by yourself. There is no one to bail you out when you get in trouble. If you run into a seemingly impossible task with no obvious way out, you need to find the way on your own. No one is going to rescue you.

Horseshoers choose to wear no one’s uniform but their own, and those who survive the first year of horseshoeing (70 percent of first-year shoers drop out), prefer it that way. We’re often called independent cusses.

In most occupations there is a continuous system of education, training, and what you might call “mentoring.” A plumber or an electrician will undergo a period of training or education and then will usually go to work in a job where there is ongoing supervision. Once in the field, most workers will learn from their contacts with the boss and from other workers.

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Injuries I Have Known

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Injuries I Have Known

Injuries, and threats of injuries, are constant sources of fascination to a shoer. In the old days, horseshoers had a hard time getting life or medical insurance, so great was the risk of working with ill-mannered horses. Perhaps those old shoers had more macho pride or needed the money, but nowadays many horseshoers refuse to work with unmanageable horses. There are all kinds of restraining tricks and devices, but because these can prove dangerous to both the horse and the shoer, the best response is to tell the owner to get the horse some manners and then call. As one rusty old shoer told me, “I’m a horseshoer, not a horse trainer.” If horseshoers practice this attitude enough, word will get out to horse owners that it is their responsibility to train the horse to stand quietly during a shoeing. That way no one gets hurt.

The best time to start the horse’s training, of course, is shortly after birth. It’s easy to pick up a foal’s feet every day until it’s no longer traumatic. I always suggest owners increase the noise and the fuss around the baby so it gets used to it. You can even tap the foot gently with a hammer—anything to get baby used to someone messing with the feet. If this is done with consistency, she should stand nicely for her first trim. After all this training, if she doesn’t stand quietly, the owner might want to take a closer look at the shoer. Like children, horses sense fear, anger, and other emotions in people, and like children, they may try to get away from the source.

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The Newspaper Reporter

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

The Newspaper Reporter

After I had been shoeing about twelve years, a newspaper reporter in Northern California who had heard about me from someone, called to set up an interview. He was interested in my background prior to taking up horseshoeing, and wanted to write an article about that. That was all right with me, and we set up a time when I could be doing a horse so he could observe the process.

I had already started working on the horse when the reporter showed up in his big blue news truck and walked over to the horse and me in his fancy loafers and his reporter’s hat. He had no notepad or pencil, no tape recorder or any other note-taking device. We shook hands. “Is this the horse?” he asked. I looked at him a moment. “Yes.” “Oh,” he said, and just stood there. I said nothing and continued working. Silence. After awhile he asked, “Do you like your work?” I said yes I did. More silence. After a few more minutes he asked, “Is this a hard job?” Once again I stopped. I put my tools down and looked directly at him. “Yes, it is,” I announced. We looked at each other for a moment, and I went back to work, telling myself that this was the poorest excuse for a reporter I had ever seen, and as far as I was concerned, the interview was over.

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Peterson Rick Hoekstra Judd (9)
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7 Reframing from Failure to Learning Moment

Peterson, Rick; Hoekstra, Judd Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Baseball teaches us how to deal with failure. We learn at a very young age that failure is the norm in baseball and, precisely because we have failed, we hold in high regard those who fail less often—those who hit safely in one out of three chances and become star players.

—FAY VINCENT, former Commissioner of Baseball

I met Garry Ridge, President and CEO of the WD-40 Company, about ten years ago after he spoke at The Ken Blanchard Companies’ client conference. During that conference, Garry shared the concept this chapter was named after—learning moments. Since that time, I’ve had the good fortune to speak with Garry on a few occasions. Most recently, Garry shared with me how he improves his own performance as well as the performance of the larger WD-40 Company “tribe” by reframing.

It started when I looked at WD-40 in the late 1990s. We were seeking to grow from $90 million to $400 million in revenue. I thought about what could keep us from hitting our growth targets. From my perspective, it boiled down to one thing—fear.

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3 Reframing from Trying Harder to Trying Easier

Peterson, Rick; Hoekstra, Judd Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You don’t get paid by the hour. You get paid by the pitch; the fewer, the better.

—RICK PETERSON

From the time we were young, we’ve learned from parents and coaches, “It’s not enough to give 100 percent; you need to give 110 percent!” As a result, when we find ourselves stuck in a pressure-packed situation, many of us believe the best way out is to try harder.

Despite what we’ve been taught, at crunch time trying harder rarely works. Many examples, across a number of fields—athletic, military, and business—show that trying harder under pressure is counterproductive. Think about your best performances. Were you grinding and full of anxiety? I’m guessing no. More than likely, you remember your best performances as being almost effortless. These performances are often described as being “in the zone.”

Instead of trying harder when you’re under pressure, a better approach to getting in the zone is to “Try Easy!”1

We often try harder under pressure because we have some performance-limiting beliefs. For example:

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4 Reframing from Tension to Laughter

Peterson, Rick; Hoekstra, Judd Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.

—YOGI BERRA

All other things being equal, a performer who is tense loses to a performer who is relaxed. We all know we need to relax under pressure, but we don’t know how. In fact, when we’re told to relax and have fun, this often frustrates us and makes us even tenser. Why? Because we don’t know how to relax when we’re under pressure.

Let me offer up a solution. In your tensest moments, actively seek opportunities to laugh. There is something about laughter that makes threats less daunting and opportunities more visible.

In this chapter, Rick and I will coach you on how to use humor as the best antidote to tension. I will also share a number of examples of Rick and others using humor to relieve tension and move forward in difficult situations. Humor is more than a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Not just because it’s fun, but because it works.

Andrew Tarvin is the chief humorist at the company he founded, Humor That Works. He is not what pops into my head when I think of a humorist. For one, he is not a comedian. He graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering from The Ohio State University. Before founding Humor That Works, Andrew worked as a successful international information technology (IT) project manager at Procter & Gamble. He said, “As an engineer, I find what works, I do it, and then I teach it to other people. It turns out humor works.”1 But how does it work?

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1 Reframing—The Shortest Path from Threat to Opportunity

Peterson, Rick; Hoekstra, Judd Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

—MILTON BERLE

At its core, reframing describes the skill of consciously and intentionally thinking about a situation in a new or different way. This, in turn, allows us to shift the meaning we attach to the situation, the actions we take, and the results we achieve. The operative word in our definition is skill. In other words, it’s not something some are gifted with and others are not. With practice, reframing can be learned by anyone.

reframe [ri: ‘ freım]

The skill of consciously thinking about a situation in a new or different way to change how you interpret the situation, the actions you take, and the results you achieve

Blanchard Executive Coach Kate Larsen shared the following analogy with me to describe how reframing works.1 You hop into your car and start the engine. The radio is already on and is playing a song on one of your preset stations. The song is like the voice in your head (a.k.a. your self-talk), often filled with emotion. The preset station is the equivalent of a long-held assumption or belief.

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B Try This

Peterson, Rick; Hoekstra, Judd Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The “Try This” sections that appear at the end of each chapter are combined here to guide you through getting started with reframing during crunch time.

Identify a high-pressure situation you’re facing now or will be facing in the near future (e.g., completing a big project with an impending deadline, making an important presentation to a challenging audience, performing in a game or a recital, taking a final exam). Use this situation as the context for practicing the skill of reframing as you read this book.

Write down what you’re currently thinking and feeling about your high-pressure situation.

Are you seeing it as a threat or an opportunity? If a threat, come up with two ways to think about it as an opportunity.

If you can already see the opportunity, write that down.

Using the high-pressure situation you identified in Chapter 1, walk through and capture notes regarding the first two steps of the reframing process.

Pause and recognize your Caveman’s story. Do I want to think or feel this way?

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Mitchel P Roth (16)
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Chapter 5 - The War Years (1940–1946)

Mitchel P. Roth University of North Texas Press ePub

The War Years (1940–1946)

“He'll be riding in a lot more rodeos—his sentence is 307 years.”

—Rodeo Announcer, 1941

PEARL Harbor was still more than a year away when 100,000 fans attended the four Sunday October TPRs in 1940. In the lead-up to that year's shows several warm-up rodeos were hosted at the Eastham Unit, where an estimated 2,000 inmates and outside visitors took in the informal performances by 135 convict cowboys.1 More than 75 percent of the prison system's 6,500 inmates would later be treated to at least one of the four upcoming shows in Huntsville, brought in from scattered prison farms in “big red cattle trucks sandwiched between armed cars.” This didn't include the convict cowboys and others who were under the impression they could handle a wild bull or horse with a “belly full of bedsprings.” Whether they won or not, each rider was guaranteed three dollars per day in so-called “day money” as they competed for even more prize lucre while proudly garbed in traditional cowboy regalia—ten-gallon hats, cowboy boots, chaps, and whatever personal flourishes they wished to add.

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Chapter 9 - The Fund Just Appeared Footloose and Fancy Free (1954–1960)

Mitchel P. Roth University of North Texas Press ePub

—O.B. Ellis, 1960

IN 1954, the Texas Prison Board vowed to spend $100,000 from recent rodeos on educational and recreational benefits for prisoners. The new prison budget was described in some quarters as “unprecedented.” Among the projects on tap from this money were a new educational building and a chapel that “will look like a chapel should.” Other items included remodeling of the local library and auditorium and new facilities for the Vocational Education Department.1 What distinguished the 1954 budget from previous ones was the fact in times past this money was usually devoted to the “enlargement and improvement of the rodeo stadium.”

Plans were made to dedicate the new Chapel of Hope during the 1955 rodeo season on October 9. Prison officials, wary of using the E&R Fund frivolously, noted that “As a matter of policy the Prison Board has restricted the use of these funds to the defraying of the cost of items and services not furnished by legislative appropriation.” In the end, board members justified it as representing their “Christian philosophy,” asserting that this edifice was a “tangible symbol” of their faith and a crucial part of the rehabilitation process.2

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Chapter 2 - A Cowboy's a Man with Guts and a Hoss

Mitchel P. Roth University of North Texas Press ePub

“People don't want to see a rodeo cowboy die, but they want to be there when he does.”

—Rodeo rider Jim Shoulders2

THE cowboy is arguably the most indelible and enduring image of the American West (if not the entire country). He emerged as a Western frontier hero in the nineteenth century and American popular culture has feasted on his image ever since, transforming what one folklorist called “the adventuresome horseman of the frontier into a national symbol of radical individualism.”3 Most authorities have traced the origins of the term “cowboy” back to around 1725. By the American Revolution the term cowboy had attained a more derogatory connotation, when it was used to refer to Tory guerrillas who jingled cowbells in order to lure “patriotic Americans into the brush” as an ambush strategy.4 By 1847, Mirabeau Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, noted in his papers that “Anglo ‘Cow-Boys’ were marauders, thieves who had rounded up cattle between the Nueces and Colorado.”5 And still another Texas writer noted that the border “'cow driver’ was often a robber and at times a murderer.”6

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Chapter 8 - Outlaw vs. Outlaw (1954–1959)

Mitchel P. Roth University of North Texas Press ePub

“There are fewer and fewer real cowboys among the convicts.”

—Lee Simmons, 1956

DEEP in the shadow of rising juvenile crime rates, the Communist menace, the Korean War, and evangelical fervor sweeping the South, the 1950s witnessed a concerted effort by religious groups to end or change the day of the Sunday TPR. At the annual meeting of the Gonzales Baptist Association in 1952, a resolution was passed and sent to Governor Shivers, the Board of Prisons, and Superintendent of Huntsville State Penitentiary stating: “Be it further resolved: That we as a group of Baptists believing in the holiness and hallowness of the Lord's Day are utterly and definitely opposed to opening of the gates of the State Penitentiary at Huntsville, or any other prison grounds in the State of Texas, on the Lord's Day to admit the thousands of people to be entertained by public patronized amusements or any other form of sports.”1 This letter was far from the end of it.

In June a general contractor from Dallas named D.B. Lewis queried the governor, “I wonder if you would tell me what your attitude is toward the continuance of the Sunday Prison Rodeo which has been conducted for the past several years in Texas?” The letter writer invoked the usual comments about the sanctity of Sundays, but made it more clear who his wrath was directed toward, noting “Such things as the Sunday Prison Rodeo staged by some of our worse [sic] criminals only has a tendency to present such characters to our youth as heroes, when as a matter of fact they are not, [sic] should be stopped.” The contractor finished his screed noting how “Our better institutions of learning have refrained from staging their athletic events on the Lord's Day, and it is sincerely hoped that…our State will decide that there is more honor in keeping things honorable than the thought of a few paltry dollars from a Sunday Rodeo.”2

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Chapter 12 - Huntsville Prison Blues (1970–1979)

Mitchel P. Roth University of North Texas Press ePub

“You must not be afraid to fight for the rodeo when the occasion arises.”

—Dave Price, Rodeo Supervisor, 1970

PRIOR to the 1960s, the American court system allowed prison wardens and related authorities to operate virtually unimpeded by outside interference and oversight. However, a handful of U.S. Supreme Court decisions began to turn the tide towards safeguarding prisoners’ rights. In the wake of these rulings an avalanche of litigation would transform prison conditions in the 1970s. One of the most important decisions was Cooper v. Pate in 1964, which allowed inmates to sue state officials in federal court, setting into motion a series of prisoner lawsuits protesting the often brutal conditions of the nation's prisons and leading to the unprecedented “liberalization” of prisons.”1

The social forces of 1960s radicalization touched most segments of American society, including the convict cowboys of the Texas Prison Rodeo, although many of them might not have noticed straight away. Beginning in this decade of social change, prison reform advocates aggressively used courts to extend the rights of prisoners and improve their lives behind bars as inmates familiarized themselves with their constitutional rights. Among the most valuable tools of the so-called “prison lawyers” were the writ of habeas corpus and the Civil Rights Act.2 The writ-writing inmates of the Texas prison system would use the power of the writ to challenge the status quo of their confinement, utilizing litigation as an alternative to violence.

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