I’ve only been to one rodeo, and it was to support a high school friend. Truth is my buddy Brett dragged me there; I was reluctant to go. The combination of country music, belt buckles and Skoal scares the hell out of me. But I obliged—life is about experience, right?
Suffice to say that I didn’t know much about what was happening. Ropes were slinging, chicks were chasing calves while riding horses, and there were more Stetsons in the grand stand than I could possibly feel comfortable with. I was wearing jeans, Chuck Taylor’s, and a Lamb of God t-shirt—not exactly attire that invites warm smiles at a Central PA version of the farm Olympics.
Walter from The Big Lebowski would have been all over me.
“You’re out of your element, Toddy.”
As we sat on hard wooden benches, surrounded by French fries and hillbillies, and watched the bull riders’ prepare, I noticed that some of them were wearing what looked like ice hockey helmets. It was completely disavowed from my Hollywood-tainted view of bull riders. Where were the spurs? Knights of Columbus! Where were the cowboy hats?
I felt cheated. I sat thinking to myself, “I’ve been sitting in Yougotapurtymouthville for the past two hours and the guys riding bulls wear helmets. Bullshit!” These guys sure have some kind of gull.
Then, as I watched, I thought more about the helmet situation. Those sunsabitches do have gull.
Rather than scoffing at the men riding the 1,000 pound animals, I decided to put myself in their shoes…err…boots.
Pinned between my legs is a bull with its nuts strapped tightly to its stomach by a piece of binder twine. It is bucking furiously; trying to throw me and kill the bastard that turned his gonads into Christmas bulbs.
Holy hell, that is terrifying! All of a sudden, I’m thinking let’s pad these guys up. In a matter of minutes I transformed from cynical asshole into Super Mom.
“Jesus, boys this isn’t safe! You should really put your knee pads on! Oh, meshugenah!”
A change in perspective quickly changed my opinion. If I were riding a bull I’d want a helmet, a bullet-proof vest, my body lined in pillows and .45 caliber revolver in case shit gets hairy. But these brave few settled for a helmet and a sturdy pair of leather gloves.
In terms of shallow outlook, my night at the rodeo parallels the current state of the fitness internet, or fit net. Yes, it’s a new term and I just coined it. Use it if you will, but, damn it, you better cite me!
Like my arrogant approach to bull riding fandom, the fit net is coming up short on healthy perspective. Well, there are plenty of perspectives; just no one is seeing anyone else’s, and it seems no one is allowed to develop their own. Arrogance and agenda have warped the scene.
Before we warp perspectives, let’s take perspective and give people a chance to cultivate one distinctly their own. Provide information and let that be enough.
You’re not a bull rider. I’m not either. (2031)