By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Staff Writer
BIG SKY – Now in its third year of production, the Big Sky Pro Bull Riders
event is turning heads – including that of its top executive, PBR Chairman
and CEO Jim Haworth, who attended both nights.
Explore Big Sky caught up with Haworth – who took over in February 2011 –
behind the chute gates on Aug. 1, and asked about his take on the first night
of Big Sky’s event, the popularity of the sport domestically and worldwide,
and how PBR attracts new athletes to one of the original extreme sports.
“I’m going to make this a regular,” Haworth told Big Sky PBR producer (and
publisher of Explore Big Sky) Eric Ladd, while preparing to film the interview.
“It’s so good, there’s not much I would do to improve it – except add more
Explore Big Sky: What drew you to attend the Big Sky PBR?
Jim Haworth: I heard so much about this. Thinking about this event in its third
year, it’s been fantastic to look at the growth it’s had. Everyone that’s been
here has said, “You’ve got to come and watch this.”
EBS: Most PBRs have moved to indoor venues. What do you think
about our outdoor arena?
JH: There’s one other event like this in Oklahoma in late August. But to me,
when you look at this setting… I don’t think we have anything that compares
to what we see right here.
EBS:You grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma. Have you ever ridden a
JH: [Laughs] I’ve never ridden a bull before and have no plans of riding a bull.
EBS: What is it about bull riding, and PBR specifically, that captures
JH: Well, I think anybody that hasn’t seen the event, they don’t understand
how extreme [it] is. It’s dangerous. It’s man against beast. We have some
fantastic athletes – the riders – that take on these fantastic athletes – the
EBS: We’ve heard PBR referred to as NASCAR on dirt. Thoughts?
JH: I think we’re better than NASCAR on dirt! You’re going to come out here,
and it’s going to seem like a rock concert with the bull riding, and with the
entertainment… NASCAR has their own spot, but we think we’re even better.
We’re the original extreme sport.
EBS: How many PBR fans are there worldwide?
JH: If you look at our TV coverage, we’re in half a billion households
worldwide. We’re now operating in five different countries – Canada,
Australia, Brazil, the United States and Mexico. We think the sky’s the limit.
We’re celebrating a very special year…our 20th. We think we’ve got at least
20 more that we can keep building this thing.
EBS: How do you attract new athletes to the sport, a dangerous
sport like this?
JH: [Laughs] Well, you probably ought to ask these guys sitting right here to
tell ya [motions to two bull riders sitting on the chute gate next to him]…
We’ve got some really good young riders coming up through the
organization. You got a chance to watch the mutton bustin’ here last night,
most of them start that way. But we’ve got some that started when they’re
15, 16 [years-old] getting on bulls, so we’re going to continue looking for
great athletes. When you look at ‘em, they are physical specimens. They
work out, and they train like professional athletes.
EBS: Anything else you want to tell the PBR fans in Montana?
JH: Hey, you’ve got to come see this event in [Big Sky]… If you’re anywhere
that’s close, you’ve got to come and take a look at it. This event is
something special, so thank you all in Montana – this is a great spot to have