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The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is the largest American rodeo organization in the world. As of 2018, It sanctions rodeos in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. Its championship event is the National Finals Rodeo. The PRCA is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States.
The organization was created in 1936 when a group of cowboys walked out of a rodeo at Boston Garden to protest the actions of rodeo promoter W.T. Johnson, who refused to add the cowboys' entry fees to the rodeo's total purse. Johnson finally gave in to the cowboys' demands, and the successful "strike" led to the formation of the Cowboys' Turtle Association. That name was chosen because, while they were slow to organize, when required they were unafraid to stick out their necks to get what they wanted, like turtles might do. Among the organizers was a woman, a four-time national bronc champion, Alice Greenough Orr. In 1945, the Turtles changed their name to the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and in 1975, the organization became the PRCA. The PRCA staff consists of about 70 full-time employees, but grows to nearly 100 during the peak rodeo season. The PRCA headquarters, established in 1979 in Colorado Springs, also houses the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. For a list of inductees, see the List of ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees.
The National Finals Rodeo and the National Finals Steer Roping award their champions and awards yearly at the end of the year and those awards are tracked in a separate article.
The Wrangler ProRodeo Tour is considered the major league series of the PRCA. The top cowboys and cowgirls compete in 20 to 25 of the PRCA's largest regular season rodeos where they try to earn points for the tour's finals event, the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Finale, held every September in Puyallup, Washington. The competitor with the highest total points in each rodeo event is crowned the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour Champion. While money won on the tour does count toward the world standings for the National Finals Rodeo, The Wrangler ProRodeo Tour is points based. For example, If a rodeo in this tour awards twelve places, first place wins 120 points, and the rest are reduced by ten points each. Wrangler Jeans is the title sponsor of this tour. Some of the Wrangler ProRodeo Tour events, including the finale, are broadcast on CBS Sports Network. However, all of the tour stops are broadcast live on the subscription-based ProRodeoTV website.
The All-American ProRodeo Series is considered the minor league series of the PRCA. Professional, as well as semi-professional cowboys and cowgirls compete on this tour of smaller PRCA rodeos in the hopes of qualifying for the All-American ProRodeo Series Finale, held every October in Waco, Texas. The highest money earner in each of the rodeo events at the end of the series finale is crowned the All-American ProRodeo Series Champion. Money on this tour, like all the other PRCA tours and championship events, counts toward the world standings. The championship round of the All-American ProRodeo Series Finale is broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
Since 2003, the PRCA has sanctioned events that feature bull riding alone called the Xtreme Bulls tour. These events are held in conjunction with less than a handful of the PRCA's several hundreds of annual rodeos. Forty PRCA bull riders compete in a select rodeo arena in a one-two day competition, and the top 12 riders based on scores come back to the championship round. The rider with the most points on two bulls wins the event. The PRCA crowns an Xtreme Bulls tour champion every year. This is the rider who wins the most money on tour. The Xtreme Bulls Tour World Finale has been held in conjunction with the PRCA-sanctioned Ellensburg Rodeo for many years. Bull riders must compete in at least forty complete PRCA rodeos if they want the money won on the Xtreme Bulls tour to count in the world standings towards the National Finals Rodeo. The Xtreme Bulls tour has Division 1 and Division 2 events. The Division 1 events, including the tour finale, are broadcast live on the Wrangler Network website.
A competitor must qualify in his or her regional circuit to move on to the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), held every spring from 1987 to 2010 in Pocatello, Idaho, before moving to Oklahoma City in 2011, Guthrie, Oklahoma in 2014 and then to Kissimmee, Florida in 2015. The top two contestants in each of the seven rodeo events from the 12 different PRCA regional circuits compete in the four-day championship event. Points are achieved for the top competitors in each of the circuit rodeo events held throughout the year. The winner in each event at the RNCFR is the national circuit finals champion for that event. In addition to the eight individual event winners, there is also an overall champion titled the All-Around Cowboy. All eight winners receive the National Circuit Championship gold belt-buckle. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the title sponsor of the NCFR. The championship round of the RNCFR is broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
The top five permit holders in each of the rodeo events at the end of the regular season compete at the PRCA Permit Holder Challenge. This one-day event is held every December at the South Point Hotel Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, just a few days before the National Finals Rodeo. First time PRCA members compete on a permit, and must win a certain amount of money before they earn their full-time PRCA membership card. The top five money-earning permit holders compete in two rounds each and the ones who have earned the most money throughout the year are each crowned the PRCA Permit Holder of the Year. The PRCA Permit Holder Challenge is broadcast live on the Wrangler Network website.
The top 15 money winners in each PRCA discipline (including the top 15 "headers" and "heelers" in team roping) at the end of the regular season earn a trip to the National Finals Rodeo, commonly called the National Finals or NFR. The NFR is held in Las Vegas, Nevada every December at the Thomas and Mack Center and airs live on CBS Sports Network. Rodeo action is held over 10 consecutive days at the National Finals, with the top money winner for the year crowned the year's PRCA World Champion in each discipline at the end of the NFR. Because of the large amount of money (10 million dollars) at stake in the NFR, the leaders in each event going into the NFR are often dethroned for the year's championship at that event.
7 events and 10 championships are sanctioned by the PRCA: