Cloning Around With Rodeo Roughstock



This is about an exciting new application for cloning, and whatever your religious, moral and ethical values, I ask that you hear me out -- the future of rodeo could depend on it.

I call your attention to other sports that have been re-invented to make the game more exciting or appealing. The American League, for example, added a designated hitter to create higher scoring games. The National Football League created overtime to decide games tied at the end of regulation, and they continue to tinker with the concept of instant replay.

But what, I ask you, has rodeo done to bring the sport into the 21st century?

Competitors still wear jeans instead of polyester uniforms, and cowboy hats instead of helmets, face guards and the other types of politically correct safety equipment required by other sports. And while rumor has it that even the lowly baseball has been secretly juiced up to generate more home runs, not much, if anything, has been done to the rodeo bull -- overtly or covertly -- to make the sport more contemporary, exciting or competitive.

Now let's turn for a moment to cloning, a relatively recent scientific breakthrough whereby a genetic twin is produced from a single cell, such as a skin cell, taken from an adult. In 1996, scientists in Scotland announced the birth of Dolly the sheep -- the first mammal ever cloned from an adult.

Since then, pigs, mice and, yes, cattle have been successfully cloned. And, of course, the human cloning company Clonaid claims it has successfully cloned humans.

Clonaid is owned by the Raelians, an obscure religious group founded by a former sportswriter named Claude Vorilhon. Following an encounter with extraterrestrials in 1973, Claude changed his name to Rael.

File all that away as we return to modern-day rodeo.

Today's rodeo cowboys and cowgirls are finely tuned athletes who use all the very latest means and supplements to stay in superb physical condition. They bear little resemblance to the original cowboys, a motley collection of all-too-human specimens who engaged in rodeo as a way to unwind and have a little fun after roundup.

But while cowboys and cowgirls have come a long way, not much has been done to maintain the competitive edge of the lowly bull. What one would logically expect to result from this inequity is that modern-day rodeo is becoming less competitive all the time.

Here, then, is my proposal. We start keeping our eyes open for a superbull, a bull that through some genetic aberration is clearly superior physically to your average bull.

One that comes to mind was recently featured in Pro Bull Rider magazine. In their "Bull Sheet" feature, the mag profiled Sling Blade, "a 5-year-old bull who tosses riders like salad."

Once we find such an animal, we hire Rael (or, if he's not available, Roundup sportswriter Max Foster, who has been possessed by aliens masquerading as middle school students) to clone it and produce a master race of blond, blue-eyed bulls.

The new master bull would stomp and bellow and glare menacingly at its foes. When the chute opens, the new master bull would give cowboys and cowgirls the fight of their lives, charging around the arena, bobbing, weaving, feinting, stopping on a dime and then turning to attack its pursuer.

I ask you, dear friends, would this not revitalize rodeo much the same as other sports have been revived?

I know what you're thinking. What about the ethical issue? What right do we have to take on a function formerly reserved for God? My answer is that we have precedent on our side.

I believe the rodeo fly is the result of an early cloning experiment run amok. The superflies on the rodeo circuit are big and nasty and, if you look closely, have vicious little teeth that can shred and tear.

Now that I think about how Rael is in cahoots (notice the clever use of a real cowboy word) with extraterrestrials, I have yet another theory. Remember the Coneheads, those lovable "Saturday Night Live" aliens, the tops of whose heads were shaped like cones? I leave you with this question.

When was the last time you saw a member of the Payson Pro Rodeo Committee without one of those extra tall, amazingly cone-shaped cowboy hats on?

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