Thursday, June 12, 2014

Study Abroad Spain - Bullfighting

Before we left Sevilla I decided to take a tour of the great Plaza del Toros.  For those of you who do not know this is where the bull fights take place and perhaps Spain’s most famous sport.  Like most great sports it is slowly falling apart due to politics and mainly everyone becoming a lot more caring about almost everything unlike our danger-seeking death defying predecessors.  That is why this trip is such an honor, because that means that Sevilla’s Plaza del Toros is one of the last of a dying breed.  I learned many things on this tour ranging from what occurs in the fights, who takes place, and the public’s response to the sport.

The fights are exactly as you’d imagine: morbid and thrilling, after all it is a fight.  However, the Spaniards have a brilliant talent in turning something so horrible into something beautiful.  The guide explained the fight as not so much as a battle, but a dance.  As she continued to explain I could see how they perceived this, as the suavely dressed matador moved his cape like a flamenco dancer over the bull as its power and strength broke through the mirage. Or, if you don’t have a great imagination you could take it as what it is which is men in colorful suits stabbing a cow. 

There are four waves that the bull has coming at him, first he has the picador which is a man on an armored horse who carries a big spear and uses it accordingly.  Next, are the banderilleros who have quick feet and “banderillas” which are like smaller gafts for fishing. Then the big name guys come out the youger Torero’s, who tire the bull out more with flashy moves of the cape and continuous movement.  Finally, the main man, the Matador, the face of Spanish culture, comes out looking like a complete stud and finishes the bull off.  The uniform of the matador is filled with flashy colors and gold and artistic designs so he looks qualified and honorable enough to do his job.  Spanish people honor Matadors and revere them as national heroes.  Honestly, I would love to be a matador only if I did not have to kill such a great animal, or maybe I just want to wear that awesome uniform.

As I stated earlier the world is getting softer and people are starting to take action in stopping this sport, only about 30% of people from Spain approve of this sport and only 15% attend the actual fights, the rest are tourists.  Seats are like Mets games, pretty affordable unless you want to be as close as you possible can, and you usually don’t leave the stadium constantly disappointed.  Regardless, it is a once and a life time experience which I think everyone should at least watch or learn about.

I understand why people do not like bull fighting; I am an animal lover just as much as the next person but this is culture and in my opinion culture is the most important thing there is in a country.  A country’s culture is what defines who they are as a people and what has long past them.  Culture allows countries to succeed and compete in markets in which otherwise they would fail, it creates jobs and produces income.  It may not be a big difference but culture is the reason there are all those tourists in the seats of the arena.

- Vincent Bellaran, Senior, Modern Language major, Mike Company

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