Forgetting for a second the All-World-Cup-All-The-Time TV coverage observed during a recent trip to Spain, here’s the definitive evidence that I wasn’t in Hoopsylvania anymore. On Spain’s version of SportsCenter, the Top 10 Plays of the Day features, yes, the best matador moves. I tell ya, those red capes were a-flappin’.
So, since one of the oldest bull rings in the whole country was a couple of blocks from our hotel in Sevilla, and there was a bullfight on the very night of our arrival, and the hotel clerk could set us up with a street broker selling tickets on the desired shaded side of the ring — the spirit of Bruce Gumer lives — we went.
The featured matador that evening was Antonio Punta, who, like all the other bullfighters (who happened to be staying in our hotel) looked exactly like Andy Garcia. I must report that, even to my unknowing eyes, El Punta was having an off night. So were the guys on the undercard, none of whom could drop the bull, as desired, with the first thrust of their sword. There weren’t many cries of “Ole!” from the crowd that evening.
The “sport” is at once disgusting and fascinating, extremely ritualistic and bloody, and obviously a very integral part of Spain’s culture. I’m glad I went but doubt I’d do it again. From my ongoing verbosity, you can tell the experience didn’t get me in touch with my inner Hemingway.
Fußball Über Alles.
That was the headline in a copy of the German paper, Die Welt, I saw in the hotel lobby on the opening day of the World Cup. Believe it. Frankly, we Americans are in the dark on this one. There is no event in the world — sporting or otherwise — that draws a global focus like soccer’s quadrennial championship. Every paper. Every TV set. All the time. And, American jingoism notwithstanding, it’s a captivating, mesmerizing sport at this level. I’m locked in.
During our two weeks in Spain, I never heard the name Rick Pitino mentioned even once.