John F. Russell: Feel good about cowboys |

John F. Russell: Feel good about cowboys

The rodeo season is months away from the snow-covered floor of the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena in downtown Steamboat Springs, but that didn’t stop 70 professional cowboys from coming to Steamboat Springs last week for the annual Cowboy Downhill.

Every January, cowboys take time away from one of the biggest rodeos of the season, Denver’s National Western Stock Show and Rodeo, to come to Steamboat Springs.

For more than 30 years, the cowboys have arrived with their trademark hats and chaps, as well as a healthy sense of humor and the desire to have a good time.

It’s a good thing they can laugh at themselves because they are not here to ride bulls or broncos. They are not here to rope a fast-running calf or steer, or even throw themselves in front of a 2,000-pound bull to save a guy they may or may not know.

Instead, they come to Steamboat to put on a pair of skis and race down Headwall ski run, providing a special moment for the spectators who line the course and reminding us all just how cool a rodeo cowboy can be.

Unlike most professional sports, cowboys operate in a world where the only time they get paid is when they win in the rodeo arena.

Cowboys almost always compete when they are hurt, and they’re not big on making excuses when they don’t win.

To tell the truth, in today’s world, I can’t think of a mainstream athlete who I think is cool.

It’s really hard to find a professional football player, basketball player or baseball player whom I can say a whole lot of nice things about. I’m sure they are out there, but they are often overshadowed by examples of a new generation of sports stars.

It’s too bad that a guy like Randy Moss couldn’t have been in Denver last week to watch the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.

Maybe then he would understand what $10,000 really is.

Maybe he would see what it’s like to really get hit, and he could learn a thing or two from the cowboys who simply tip their hats after a good ride instead of acting like they’re mooning the crowd.

Maybe, just maybe, he would finally realize that he’s not as big a man as he thinks he is — he just has really big hair.

You see, unlike many other professional athletes, cowboys have a genuine respect for their sport.

Every time they compete they know could be their last. They understand that winning means getting paid and they understand how their actions reflect not only on themselves, but the sport.

It’s something that most of the overpaid wide receivers of the NFL still have not learned.

I guess that’s why so many people come out to watch the Cowboy Downhill for the thrills and spills but end up leaving the ski area feeling good about cowboys.

–To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail

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