Grand National Rodeo at Daly City Cow Palace draws long-time fans, animal rights activists

People at the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace had some strong opinions about whether the sport should be allowed to continue.

Depending on one's perspective, it can be viewed as a thrilling sport.

"There's nothing more beautiful and exciting than watching the roping of horses. I mean it's amazing what they are able to do," said Eileen Corley.

Others see it as a publicly tolerated form of animal cruelty.

"They suffer from broken bones, they're roped, they're kicked, electric prods are used on them," said Michelle Lang.

It's an event so controversial, two women said they discussed not telling a friend they were attending the rodeo. 

"I'm not hiding it, but I'm also not going to advertise if it makes her uncomfortable or something like that," said Grace Birkenes.

Rodeo's have received an exemption under Governor Newsom's newly signed laws, aimed at reducing animal cruelty.

Rightly so, say some Rodeo participants who say they're animal lovers too.

"Here's no one more interested in the care of animals than our cowboys and cowgirls in this area," said Tony Agredano.

Some argue acts performed in the rodeo are born from real-life actions that take place on farms.

But critics say it's human entertainment at the animals expense.

"A sport is not subjecting an animal that you're dominating and causing intentional pain and causing them to be fearful for their life, that they're running for the life. That's not a sport," said Deniz Bolbol.

Sport or not, it's been around for more than a hundred years.

Some expect it to be around for decades to come, as a slice of American culture.

"I'm pro rodeo.  I love it. It's part of my heritage, party of my life," said James Waldrop.

But in the Bay Area, it's waning in popularity, and some rodeo advocates say, unless they can attract more young people, rodeo in the Bay Area could be on its last legs.