Cowboys, cowgirls compete for big bucks

By Randy McIlvoy - Sports Director
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HOUSTON - In the world of professional sports, the big pay days keep climbing.

In the National Football League, the average players' salary is well over $1 million. In Major League Baseball, the average is $3.5 million with a minimum salary of $480,000.

On the Pro Rodeo circuit , it's anything but glamorous, even for a veteran cowboy like Bareback World Champion Clint Cannon.

"We are paid to get tortured, and we wouldn't do anything else," said Cannon. "It is an extreme sport and most brutal sport out there."

For a few weeks in March, the world's best cowboys and cowgirls will call Houston home. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo features the largest rodeo in the world, not to mention some pretty hefty paychecks to be had.

"When we get to rodeos like this, when it pays well, it's easier to get up and down the road," Steer Wrestler Ethen Thouvenell said. "We only get a paycheck if we win, so it's tough out there."

Out on the circuit for most of the guys, it's a week to week grind. Don't think for a minute their mode of transportation is anything spectacular.

"I drive a minivan," Cannon said, laughing it off.

For even the best of competitors, reaching a $1 million or $2 million is a career milestone. They're out to make a living and do what they love to do. It's a passion, even during the bad days.

"When I leave the house, dad says you could be home working, so enjoy it. So that's what I'm trying to do, enjoy it, "said Steer Wrestler Zack Cobb, who makes his home in Pampa, Texas.

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