In the December 16, 2001 edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reporter Jeff Wolf covered ESPN’s airing of rodeos. As the following excerpt of Wolf’s report shows, when it comes to rodeos, ESPN doesn’t even make an attempt at accurate and balanced coverage. Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Commissioner Steve Hatchell’s comments shows that the Rodeo Mafia fully uses ESPN’s ethical shortcomings to cover up animal abuse:
The PRCA controls all aspects of what is televised, which allows it to determine what camera angles are used and what is sent through the cables.
You won’t see a calf’s head snap back in calf roping when the cowboy’s rope is taut.
“We’re really sensitive to people who have a problem with calf roping,” Hatchell said, adding that calves rarely sustain serious injuries.
“We just want to showcase (rodeo) in the best light. We want the show to be well presented to an audience broader than just rodeo fans.”
In other words, the PRCA will abuse the animals, but they won’t let you see the abuse. Indeed, ESPN (and other media) broadcasts of rodeos do NOT include calves being jerked down by the neck, steers being flipped and dragged in the steer busting event, or animals injured or killed in rodeos. These all too telling scenes are cut. The same kind of unethical editing occurs in televised bullfights, wherein camera angles and editing eliminate the unspeakable and indefensible gore and cruelty. The slaughter is sanitized for viewers to the point where it bears little resemblance to the horrific reality.
Hatchell’s claim that calves rarely sustain serious injury is highly dubious. First, the PRCA refuses to make records on injuries and deaths public. Second, calves (and other animals) are regularly carried out of the PRCA’s National Finals Rodeo and other PRCA events around the country, and nothing is heard about them again.
Watch how rodeo is broadcast on television. During calf roping you'll notice how the camera cuts away from the calf at the violent, life-threatening moment that the rope suddenly goes tight around the victim’s neck, clothes-lining the young animal and jerking her down. This often causes calves to be knocked out, and it sometimes results in injuries and even death from internal injuries, broken necks, backs and legs.