2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Demetrius Pearson

University of Houston
American Rodeo: The Hijacking and Acculturation of a Hispanic Tradition
American Rodeo: The Hijacking and Acculturation of a Hispanic Tradition
American rodeo has emerged as an international sport form and an attractive entertainment option. Yet, its origin and early participants have been subjected to “his-story” due to mythical western lore, discrimination, and conjecture. This presentation highlights the hijacking, white-washing, and systematic acculturation of the traditional Mexican fiesta and round-up which has been institutionalized into an American sport form. The round-up of open range cattle and horses referred initially as “ro-day-o” was anglicized by northern border immigrants and called rodeo (Pearson, 1999; Westermeier, 1987). Ironically, much of American rodeo’s origin can be attributed to its southern most neighbors in Mexico, particularly the region parceled out, confiscated, and stolen known as Texas. The original cowboy, the vaquero/charro, semi-annually rounded up nomadic livestock that roamed the open prairies to brand herds, earmark calves, and castrate bulls (Livingston, 2017). These tasks became celebratory and ultimately led to Mexico’s most revered festive athletic pastime – charrería. As a result, lariats, chaps, and roping saddles were hacienda related equipment employed in this proletariat occupation turned sport form. The roots of American rodeo and Mexico’s national sport can be traced to Mexican fiestas in the Southwest although few are aware of this fact (Allen, 1998; Barraclough, 2015).