Richard W. Rodriguez Star-Telegram
In a day when rodeo riders are approaching the sport from an athletic standpoint more than ever, there’s a heavier emphasis on physical fitness and many competitors are taking a closer look at abstaining from substances such as alcohol and tobacco.
One cowboy attempting to send a message about abstaining from frequent tobacco consumption is bareback bronc rider Cody Kiser.
“A lot of these cowboys don’t smoke or chew, and if they do, it’s really rare,” Kiser said. “A lot of the guys consider themselves as athletes. So they want to keep their bodies at an optimum performance and they don’t want to do anything that would break them down.”
When the Fort Worth Stock Show conducted the opening performance of its 16-day Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show on Friday, Kiser turned in a bareback score of 80, the highest marking of the night.
As he competed in the renowned rodeo, Kiser wore a patch on his shirt that said: “Oral Cancer Foundation.”
The foundation’s website lists Kiser and a spokesman and states: “The western/rodeo environment has had a long-term relationship with tobacco, and until 2009 the PRCA had a lengthy history of tobacco sponsorship money. While that has ended, tobacco use, and smokeless/spit tobaccos still thrive in the sport. While adults have the right to make any lifestyle choice, they inadvertently expose impressionable young people to what are sometimes harmful habits though poor examples like the use of tobacco products. This is particularly harmful as kids look up to athletes.”
Kiser, 25, who is from Carson City, Nev., aspires to set a great example.
“My message is for the younger generation, to expand the sport of rodeo and help it become more mainstream,” he said. “Rodeo can be like NASCAR. When NASCAR started getting rid of most of their alcohol and tobacco sponsors and then started bringing in sponsors such as Tide and Kellogg, which are more family oriented, then the sport exploded. Today, there’s so much more money in NASCAR and it can become the same for rodeo.”