Yes, breakaway roping is in HUGE demand—even at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
In a survey The Breakaway Roping Journal conducted with over 4,500 respondents, some 98.41% of fans reported that they want to see the sport added as a regular event over all 10 rounds of the NFR. A full 97.42%—or 4,423 respondents—also believe breakaway ropers should be roping for an equal payout to the rest of the events at the Finals.
"That's so positive, and something we are able to relay to Las Vegas," said WPRA President Jimmie Munroe. "They know the popularity of the event, but it's just the first year trying to get things worked out. It's happened so fast, but probably not fast enough for the breakaway ropers."
While many fans unwaveringly support the addition of breakaway roping to the NFR, the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Las Vegas Events have yet to release a plan for a breakaway roping finals in December.
"We're working with the National Finals, the PRCA and Las Vegas concerning the breakaway," Munroe said. "Within the next couple weeks, we'll know more as far as what's going to happen with the National Finals. We'd like to say, 'Yes, the breakaway will be in every performance at the National Finals.' I don't think that's going to happen the first year in Vegas. But hopefully the breakaway will be in some of the performances—that's what we're working toward with the PRCA. We just don't really know yet. We can't really say yet, exactly what's going to happen. But both associations are really working hard and we're working with Las Vegas Events concerning the breakaway at the NFR."
For breakaway ropers battling it out for a spot in the top 15, the solution is more clear.
"The fan support tells us it should be in Las Vegas," said Lari Dee Guy, an eight-time WPRA world champion. "Rodeo fans are looking for another women's event in professional rodeo. This proves it."
"If not this year, next year I want it to be exactly like every other event," reigning WPRA World Champion Jackie Crawford added. "We should be in the rodeo, just like everybody else. Our expenses are the same, and we're the second largest event entered."
In 2020, the top 15 breakaway ropers in the WPRA ProRodeo World Standings competed for $200,000 in prize money in the mornings over three days in Globe Life Field during the NFR held in the same arena that night, receiving top-15 contestant jackets and donated prize packages.
The NFR payout—not including anything that may be added to the breakaway roping—climbed to $13.3 million for 2021. The NFR, which returns to Las Vegas Dec. 2-11, will have a payout of $10,257,048. This amount includes guaranteed prize money of $1.2 million for all NFR qualifiers and $9,057,048 in competition prize money. The increase will see round winners take home $26,997 per round and average winners earn $69,234. Each go-round will pay a total of $87,087, while the average total will pay $261,261 per event.
"The challenge is that this is the first year in Las Vegas," Munroe said. "We're working for the first time with Las Vegas Events with the breakaway. I feel within the next couple years, the next two years, the breakaway is going to be part of the NFR in all the performances. Will it happen this year? No, I don't think it's likely they'll be in all 10 performances. But our hope is that the breakaway will be in several of the performances this year."
The breakaway roping world champion will be crowned on stage after Round 10, Munroe said.
To listen to the full interview with Munroe, tune into The Team Roping Journal's podcast 'The Score' starting on Thursday, August 19, 2021. Munroe will talk about the forces at play in getting breakaway roping added to the Finals and what breakaway ropers can do to help the sport continue to grow. BRJ
More information: The survey referenced in this article was an informal survey sent out through The Breakaway Roping Journal's social media channels. Some 4540 respondents took the 12-question survey, of which 68% reported that they were breakaway ropers, while 30% said that they are not breakaway ropers and do not have a breakaway roper in their friend or family circle.