Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is an organization whose members compete in rodeos throughout North America, primarily in the United States. The PRCA sanctions rodeo venues and events through the PRCA Circuit System. Its championship event is the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The PRCA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO.
The organization was created in 1936 when a group of cowboys walked out of a rodeo at Boston Garden to protest the actions of rodeo promoter W.T. Johnson, who refused to add the cowboys' entry fees to the rodeo's total purse. Johnson finally gave in to the cowboys' demands, and the successful "strike" led to the formation of the Cowboys' Turtle Association. That name was chosen because, while they were slow to organize, when required they were unafraid to stick out their necks to get what they wanted, like turtles might do. Among the organizers was a woman, a four-time national bronc champion, Alice Greenough Orr. In 1945, the Turtles changed their name to the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1975, the organization became the PRCA.
The PRCA staff consists of about 70 full-time employees, but grows to nearly 100 during the peak rodeo season. The PRCA headquarters, established in 1979 in Colorado Springs, also houses the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy.
Circuits and championships
A performer must qualify in his or her regional circuit to move on to the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR), held every year since 1987 in Pocatello, Idaho. The top two contestants in each of the seven rodeo events from the 12 different PRCA regional circuits compete in the four-day championship event held in Pocatello. Points are achieved for the top competitors in each of the circuit rodeo events held throughout the year. The winner in each event at the DNCFR is the national circuit finals champion for that event. In addition to the eight individual event winners, there is also an overall champion titled the All-Around Cowboy. All eight winners receive the National Circuit Championship gold belt-buckle. Dodge has been the title sponsor of the NCFR since 1991.
The top 15 money winners in each PRCA discipline (including the top 15 "headers" and "heelers" in team roping) earn a trip to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, commonly called the National Finals or NFR. The NFR is held in Las Vegas, Nevada every December. Rodeo action is held over 10 consecutive days at the National Finals, with the top money winner for the year crowned the year's champion in each discipline at the end of the NFR. Because of the large amount of money at stake in the NFR, the leader going into the NFR is often dethroned for the year's championship at that event.
8 events and 10 championships are sanctioned by the PRCA:
- Steer wrestling - also known as bull dogging
- Team roping - Divided into "Headers" and "Heelers" in 1995
- Headers - Cowboys who rope the steer's head
- Heelers - Cowboys who rope the steer's hind feet
- Saddle bronc riding
- Tie-down roping - formerly known as calf roping
- Steer roping
- Bull riding