Team Roping: Golf of the Western Lifestyle
When I think of golf, I typically think of a Sunday afternoon at my grandparents' house with a plush couch and soft whispers of the golf channel lulling me into a nap. I recently heard the expression that Team Roping is the Western Lifestyle enthusiast's golf. I adamantly disagreed thinking about the Team Roping events I have attended and not feeling one bit like I should lean over and take a nap on the metal bleachers. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that might be one of the best descriptions I've heard yet (minus all of the whispering, of course).
Similar to golf, team roping is a sport that can be picked up at any age. Images of 2 year-olds holding ropes bigger than they are can easily be accompanied by kids holding golf clubs that reach over their heads. The beauty of these sports is you do not have to be in the prime of your life to succeed, mostly because team roping and golf are very much centered on mastering the technique. True, it helps to be young and agile with some muscle to help your rope to be thrown further or your ball to go further down the fairway, but the fact is that these sports are ones that many people can still be active in well into their 60's, 70's, or heck, 80's.
Perhaps the most glaring connection to the Scottish sport of golf, is the addition of a classification numbering system extremely similar to a handicap status in golf. The United States Team Roping Championships (USTRC) organization was founded in 1989 and created a classification/rating system that would help provide ropers with competition comparable to their level. This classification system was in response to the growing popularity of the sport and was last modified in 2005. These ratings are determined by an individual's performance records throughout the team roping season and are formulated through USTRC's Team Roping Information and Data (TRIAD) system. Whew, that's a lot of acronyms, but the important thing to notice here is that the sport wanted to maintain it's level of fun, just like golf. It would be absolutely no fun to know that you just paid good money to enter a friendly golf course competition only to find out you were playing against Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Rory McIlroy. There would be no competitive fun and your chances of winning would be slim, well, at least my chances of winning against those three would be extremely slim. The same goes for roping. The classification system is provided as a way to have more fun for all of the many competition levels and to provide incentives for a roper to grow in their talent and move up in the classification system. On the TRIAD system, a roper can range from 1-10 classification, a 1 being a true beginner, still learning to swing the rope, to 10 being a roper of a National Finals Rodeo (NFR)-quality. These numbers in effect create an even-playing field so all of the prize money is not compressed to a certain level of competitor. Thankfully, USTRC takes it upon themselves to derive your classification, unlike golf where you are supposed to compute your own handicap. There are charts, people. I tried to look it up to understand it and after the seventh chart on how to derive your right handicap I decided to just say that it's complicated.
Although the metaphor of team roping being equivalent to golf begins to break down once you get into the gear (some would argue that they are similar in their accompanying price tags) and atmosphere, it was very interesting to see the similarities between the Gentlemen's Game and Team Roping. We might not have whispering announcers and polite "golf clapping," but both sports allow diverse competitors and an even playing field, a fact that can be appreciated by many.
Written by Kara Grimes
Sources: USTRC.com "Learn About the Sport of Team Roping", spintowinrodeo.com "The USTRC creates TRIAD."
- Burge Linton