In rodeo, the cowboy hat is as much an icon as the horse, so the sport has been very reluctant to require its riders to wear helmets. Even for children, they remain optional under most association rules.
While many pros aren’t going to change from cowboy hat to safety helmet, those who do are setting a standard for up-and-coming young riders. Parents and medical experts are applauding the efforts, citing that getting young competitors used to wearing helmets today instills the practice in them throughout their riding careers.
To help further promote safety helmets in competition, the Professional Bull Riders association plans to offer scholarships to youth associations that require helmets.
But as the Billings Gazette article pointed out, there still might be a way to reach out to older, hardened rodeo riders who resist wearing safety helmets: As a competitor sits in the chute atop a bull, steer or bronc, the rider’s head is displayed on large arena screens and on camera during televised events. According to the Billings Gazette report, “That makes helmets a potentially lucrative billboard.”