SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — Texans love sports and everyone knows it. Whether it be a local pee-wee soccer game or Sunday Night Football, Texans will be there with unwavering support and loyalty for their team.

With many sports fighting for their spot in Texas’ heart, only one has the official state sport designation.

Rodeo became the official state sport on June 18, 1997, due to the major role that Texans have had in the development and leadership of the professional sport, according to Where Texas Became Texas. Spanish conquistadors Hernando Cortes and Gregorio de Villalobos introduced horses and cattle to the southwest in the 16th century, the Texas State Historical Association reports, planting the seed of what would turn into the rough-and-tumble sport that it is now.

As more people began settling in Texas and ranches like the King Ranch were established during the 1800s, the skills to rope, ride and herd cattle in the open range were needed. According to TSHA, an abundance of wild cattle and horses plus the imagination of a young man led to many buying a saddle to join the cattle drives following the Civil War.

TSHA notes that the cowboys became more confined to their jobs as fences began closing off the open range by the 1880s. This led to cowboys showing off their skills and challenging those from other ranches in roping and bronc riding contests. By 1883 one of the first recorded rodeos took place in Pecos, Texas. Fort Worth soon also made history by hosting the first indoor rodeo in 1917.

Many groups tried to organize the rodeo beginning in 1920, reports TSHA. In 1945 a group known as the Cowboys’ Turtle Association was reorganized as the Rodeo Cowboy Association in Houston. The RCA soon made Fort Worth their home by setting up a national office. By 1975 the RCA was renamed the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The PRCA shares that today they sanction around 650 rodeo events across 38 states and three Canadian provinces every year.

The oldest and biggest rodeo-sanctioning body in the world was not the only organization to get started in Texas. Thirty-eight women gathered at the St. Angelus hotel in San Angelo on Feb. 28, 1948, to change the male-dominated world of rodeo. The Girls Rodeo Assocation soon began to grow to help organize and sanction women’s rodeo events which were slowly going downhill. In 1982 the GRA joined forces with the PRCA and became what is known today as the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.

Rodeo continues to have a big influence on Texas with some of the largest shows in the nation happening in the state. Soak in the history and enjoy the atmosphere at one of these rodeos in Texas: