Breaking Ground at Pro Rodeo Canada

Photo by Billie-Jean Duff.

Rapid change has never been common in the history of rodeo, but Pro Rodeo Canada’s new General Manager Dan Eddy says that we will see some major advancements in 2015.

“The time for change is now,” says Eddy. “Within the next five years the decisions that are made by our industry will be critical for the survival of the sport.”

When Eddy applied late last year for the role he was intrigued by the opportunity to point the sport in a new direction.

“I’ve felt the struggles of the cowboy and cowgirl. I’ve experienced that for 25 years.”

After he accepted the position, Eddy did a lot of research and moved himself and his wife Debbie from Halifax, N.S., to Airdrie, Alta.

He believes that one of the big things that could help revitalize the industry is to reach out and connect every fragmented group that fits within the individual branches of rodeo.

“I’ve talked to a lot of industry leaders from Canada and the U.S., and not one time did I hear of anyone not willing to help. I’ve also heard that the sport is at a standstill, and we need to lay aside any personal agendas, and consider first the sport of rodeo. The old-school politics aren’t doing rodeo any favours, and it’s time to move forward for the sake of the sport that so many have worked so hard to create.”

Under the new vision of Pro Rodeo Canada, rebranding also means giving professional rodeo a facelift. This season the association is promoting their new brand — what we knew as the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) will begin to take a back seat to Pro Rodeo Canada. Eddy hopes that offering a new edge to the organization will get current supporters excited and bring in new fans.

Eddy hopes a new professional standard of ethics at Pro Rodeo Canada will also help level out any old personal agendas, and clear up any misinformation relating to the sport.

“We certainly have some issues to clear up. We have a code of conduct and standards that will be even tighter in 2016.”

Part of Pro Rodeo Canada’s new plan is connecting rodeo to TV audiences. Over the next five years, Eddy and his team aim to work tirelessly towards creating a new professional rodeo series which would allow broadcast opportunities coast-to-coast.

Building better relationships with amateur rodeo associations is also high on Eddy’s Pro Rodeo Canada to-do list. He is looking to create a tier system (much like the one used in hockey) to help bring competitors up through the sport. He feels it’s important for the professional organization that heads the sport to know who their future athletes will be.

“It’s important to move forward with a solid business plan that includes a whole new freedom to connect. The western tradition has a wonderful, humble spirit, but we have a product and a sport that the rest of the country really deserves to experience. I think when people were driving up and down the road 50 years ago they really wanted to see the sport grow. Now we’ve protected it so much that not everyone in Canada has had a chance to see it.”

In 2015, Eddy says new partnerships and opportunities are knocking at rodeo’s door. He’s very excited this season to be a part of rodeo and welcome new faces into the industry.

The goal? In five years if rodeo is being promoted from coast-to-coast, and the athletes are being supported better, then Eddy believes that the industry will finally be on the right track.