DirectLoop is a buyer’s club that sells ropes, headstalls, bits, spurs, saddle pads and leg gear. Their brands include Ropervision, Gator, Magnum and Aero ropes.
“I’ve never been to a roping where somebody wasn’t mad about either their number or somebody else’s,” said Byron Duffin, manager of DirectLoop. “We felt that there had to be a system that would work without numbers. The number deal has been good, don’t get me wrong, that’s what’s grown our industry, but there’s too many discrepancies from association to association.”
So, Duffin brainstormed an idea in which every team entered ropes three head (progressive after one) in one roping. Then, the fourth round is divided into a four-tier payoff round from the fastest to the slowest. If the total number of teams to catch three steers is not divisible by four, the extra runs will be added to the upper level tiers. In essence, ropers are divided into a category based on how they roped that day with that particular partner.
“Everybody roped in the same roping, but you split the pot evenly amongst the four tiers. The times divide themselves pretty naturally,” Duffin explained.
Interestingly, a couple named Dewaine and Linda Carlsen already had a similar concept patented, but weren’t producing ropings using it. So DirectLoop became a licensed producer using the format.
The entry details are also designed to help keep more skilled ropers from dominating. All ropings are pick one partner, draw two or draw all three. Ropers can enter twice for six partners.
“Ideally, what happens is the higher-level ropers want to come to this roping because there’s nowhere else for them to rope,” Duffin said. “They’re limited as to where they can rope because of their number. But the higher numbered guys want to come and bring young horses or rope with their kids or wives. They want to rope just as much as the low-numbered guys.
“Let’s say Matt Sherwood and Allen Bach show up and they’re obviously going to pick each other. But then they have to rope in the draw pool, too, and maybe I’m going to draw Matt Sherwood. Can you imagine how fun it would be for some of these guys to draw Matt and have a chance to win with him?”
The most obvious question is will the top ropers purposely rope slower or incur penalties in order to end up in a lower tier?
“I don’t know what people’s intentions are,” Duffin said. “But doing that doesn’t guarantee where you’ll be. You could end up being sixth or seventh down in the next tier down and it didn’t improve your situation any.”
DirectLoop is using this format as a way to promote their products. Non-members are allowed to rope at any of the regular ropings for a fee, but in order to rope in the finale roping in Pocatello, Idaho, this fall, they will have to become DirectLoop members. Producers also must offer a DirectLoop prize line. A full set of specific rules and regulations for roper and producer can be found at www.mydirectloop.com.
“There was not one complaint at the first one of these we had,” Duffin said of the experiment. “Ropers realized that if they didn’t beat themselves they had a chance to win money. Everyone has a chance to win if they catch four steers. I think the potential is good.”