Analyze a rodeo using the sociological perspective and apply social conflict symbolic interaction perspective.
There is something exciting about watching people knowingly do something dangerous. It's not like a sporting event or other competition, though there is competition involved, of course. At a rodeo, the actual battle (struggle, competition) is man against himself. The animal somehow represents everything which must be conquered, and the fiercer the animal the greater the victory.
The collective gasps and groans are typical, as are the reactions when someone is hurt. I've only seen it happen twice, but each time the crowd is deathly silent and virtually mesmerized by the incident.
Last time I went to a rodeo, I remember thinking I was glad they interspersed the major riding with lighter fare, such as the dinner bell derbies for colts and their moms. We needed the time to breathe a little easier and prepare ourselves for the next round of feats.
I've only been to stock car races, but I imagine attending a racing event is at least similar--man vs. machine as much as man vs. man. Perhaps it's similar, too, to the highwire or other dangerous act at a circus. We marvel that these competitors are able to face down their fears and conquer the horse--or the machine, or the trapeze.
Hope that helps.