Rodeo commissioner quits under fire

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2004:

LAS VEGAS–Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
commissioner Steven Hatchell resigned on December 10 during the 2004
National Rodeo Finals to become head of the National Football
Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Hatchell was credited with expanding national TV coverage of
PRCA events from 48 hours in 1998 to 300 hours in 2004, boosting
live attendance to 24 million. That made rodeo the seventh leading
spectator activity in the U.S.–but Hatchell was seen by some PRCA
members as a threat to participant control of rodeo. Hatchell had
reportedly recently formed a separate investor group to promote rodeo
events.
With rising visibility came rising controversy, amplified at
the National Rodeo Finals by Steve Hindi of SHARK, whose TV truck
prowled Las Vegas airing undercover video of other recent PRCA
rodeos, challenging Hatchell to a public debate.
“Much of the footage shows violations of the PRCA guidelines
on animal welfare,” reported Ian Mylcreest of the Las Vegas Business
Press. “Horses were repeatedly teased and goaded. One horse had his
head repeatedly slammed against a gate. Others had their tails and
ears twisted. Handlers routinely shocked animals with a 5,000-volt
prod, including applying it to their faces.”

The PRCA was earlier embarrassed when prominent stock
contractor Gregory Kesler was convicted of smuggling 27 Canadian
bulls into the U.S. in June 2003 and January 2004, while cattle
imports from Canada to the U.S. were suspended due to the discovery
of mad cow disease in Alberta. Kesler, fined more than $80,000, on
November 18 was sentenced to a year on probation.
College rodeo took a hit, meanwhile, with the December 2
arrests of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M team members Jake Pianalton,
18, of Lincoln, Arkansas, and David Walker, 19, of Springdale,
Arkansas, for allegedly rustling 10 cattle from ranches in Oklahoma
and Arkansas.

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