When Choice Hotels terminated its sponsorship of the National High School Rodeo Association after discussion with SHARK regarding the NHSRA's record of cruelty and coverup, the NHSRA released a statement to its members and website in a pathetic attempt at damage control. Rather than admitting the real reasons for the loss of sponsorship or owning up to any culpability on the part of the NHSRA, the organization's leadership simply continued to spew their tired propaganda.
Below you can read the NHSRA's official statement along with SHARK's "reality check" comments in italics.
Any claim that the National High School Rodeo Association "serves youth and promotes education, animal welfare, discipline and the western way of live" (try "life") is a load of horse manure. One look at IllinoisCorruption.com will prove that the NHSRA's humane rules are utterly worthless. As for the other claims of what the NHSRA does, it is a lie. First, leading young people requires leadership, and the NHSRA has consistently proven that it has no true leaders. But let's look at some particulars.
1. The NHSRA has obstructed an investigation into documented and publicly reported abuses at the 2006 NHSRA finals rodeo. This was far from the first time a high school rodeo was busted for abuse. In fact, the NHSRA has perhaps the worst history of abuse of any rodeo association. Therefore, the NSHRA is teaching young people to be cruel, to violate rules and laws, and to lie about it.
2. In August 2006, a sexual predator named Larry Lancaster was arrested and charged with committing atrocious acts against underaged boys. Mr. Lancaster was the owner of Lancaster's Rock-n-Roll Rodeo Gear. The kicker is that Mr. Lancaster went to court and was convicted in May 2007. The rodeo association, wanting every last penny that it could get from Lancaster, held him as a sponsorafter he was arrested, and even for a while after he was convicted!
3. SHARK's interaction with young NHSRA contestants and their parents have shown these people to be cruel, lawless, rude, undisciplined people with, in some cases, a criminal bent that includes harassment, criminal damage to property and assaults.
According to Choice hotel company representatives, the decision to move from being an official sponsor was based on a number of factors, including overall marketing strategy, as well as animal welfare issues raised by critics of the sport of rodeo.Any business person knows that contracts are signed with a joint understanding that they are to be fulfilled. Choice intended to fulfill its contract with the NHSRA because the rodeo association gave assurances about the treatment of animals. When SHARK proved beyond any doubt that those assurances are worthless, Choice did the right thing in terminating its contract two years early with the NHSRA. The termination didn't "evolve" any "promotional relationship" -- it terminated it! The fact that the NHSRA's leadership can't even acknowledge reality is in keeping with the cowboy fairyland in which these people reside.
NHSRA has worked with Choice Hotels beginning in 2006 to systematically review issues raised and provide Choice company representatives with information. We provided information regarding our policies relating to the care and handling of rodeo livestock at our events and answers to specific questions raised as well as documentation from veterinarians showing the extremely low rate of injury and illness to rodeo livestock at NHSRA events, specifically the National High School Finals Rodeo.Nonsense. The termination came as a result of the NHSRA being exposed for animal abuse that NHSRA leadership refused to even acknowledge, must less promise to change.
Following the completion of this review, Choice informed NHSRA that the information they reviewed and which was presented from various parties was not entirely conclusive on either side of the equation. Based on this, Choice company representatives felt it was in the best interest of their company and that of their various constituents to amend the contract and sponsorship. Therefore, after discussing the issues and our concerns we came to a mutual agreement to amend the contract and sponsorship.The NHSRA's claim of an "extremely low rate of injury" is a lie. For over a decade, SHARK has challenged the rodeo industry to release actual injury reports for each rodeo, and not one association will do so, and that list of cover-up artists certainly includes the National High School Rodeo Association. If people knew the true rate of injuries to rodeo animals, many of whom do not go down until after they have left the arena, there would be public outrage, and a wholesale exodus of corporate sponsors.
Choice continues to provide substantial discounts to NHSRA members and participants, and their contract with our organization continues through the contract period ending December 31, 2009.This NHSRA propaganda is laughable. Had SHARK's evidence been anything but completely irrefutable, Choice would not have terminated its contract two years early. Choice Hotels is a well established, very well-respected, multinational corporation. As such, the company wanted to protect its reputation. When Choice representatives learned what kind of cruel, untrustworthy organization it had contracted with, they took the laudable step of terminating their contract with the NHSRA.
The one bone that Choice threw the NHSRA was a discount to its members, most of whom stay in trailers anyway. Yee, as they say, Ha! It was the sponsorship money that was so important to the NHSRA, and that is gone. The NHSRA has no one to blame for the termination but itself, but it is clear from this nonsensical statement that it can't even tell the truth to its own membership about what happened, and why.