Growing up in the agrarian state of Oregon, attending local rodeos during the summer was a favorite family activity. The raw athleticism, toughness, and tradition always made for good entertainment. The humility, sense of community, and incredible treatment of livestock instilled a deep admiration for the country folk for whom rodeo is their entire livelihood.
Unlike most professional sports, the cowboys and cowgirls are responsible for personally funding their own equipment, horses, lodging, and transportation. Their lives consist of driving hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles between weekends to make it to the next rodeo where they compete for a paltry winner-takes-all purse in the 4-5 figure range. A missed lasso toss, a momentary loss of balance, or an overturned barrel can be the difference between earning enough to cover a few more weeks of food, gas, and supplies, or heading to the next event empty-handed. As if the meagre earnings aren’t enough of a deterrent, the physical toll and life-risking courage the sport demands are further testament to the passion and dedication these athletes possess.
Now having lived in Boston for the better part of a decade, my rodeo participation has been reduced to the occasional visit home or sporadic television broadcasts. Recently I was ecstatic to discover a rodeo in Northern Connecticut, however I had my doubts about the level of competition and authenticity. Given that the majority of rodeos occur in the western and southern portions of the United States, I wondered how much incentive an athlete would have to drive all the way to New England to compete. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to look for a map of all rodeos in a given season of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), only to to find that no such map exists on the internet. Thus I set out to make my own map...
The first step was to acquire the schedule for the 2015 rodeo season. The PRCA website does not contain a cohesive schedule for the entire season but does post the remaining season schedule as well as the results of each event that has already occured. Luckily the construction of the website is very simple, which made for easy scraping of the data into a format that can be processed.
Parsing and Re-structuring with Dynamo:
After collecting the lists of information for both the remaining schedule and results, I set out to use Autodesk Dynamo Studio 2016 to parse and re-structure the data for visualization. With the knowledge that the National Finals Rodeo event in Las Vegas in December marks the culmination of every rodeo season, I pared down all events to this timeframe, resulting in 620 total contests. This is a prime example of Dynamo as a powerful visual programming platform independent of Revit.
Visualization with Tableau:
The next step was to merge the two data sources and organize the information by: event name, city, state, country, and first day of event. Once everything was clean and consistent, I exported the data to Tableau for visualization. The Tableau map feature allowed me to position all 620 rodeos across the US and Canada and colorize them based on when they take place during the course of the season.
In the end I was surprised to see a moderate cluster of dots in the New England region and was particularly pleased to find rodeos in Western New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine. Perhaps there is a contingent of die-hard New England cowboys and cowgirls keeping the spirit of rodeo alive in the East? Regardless, my respect and admiration for this sport will always keep me coming back for more and I look forward to checking out the local rodeo scene. Enjoy!