Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: Sports in South America
Everybody knows that soccer, or better “futbol,” is the most popular sport in Latin America (and the world). About 3.2 billion people watched at least a minute of the World Cup in 2010. The truth is Latin Americans are fans of more than just soccer. Other common sports like baseball, basketball and volleyball are also very popular among Latin American countries. Countries like Mexico, Peru and Chile are also big into less common sports like bullfighting and rodeos. This Wisdom.Applied Wednesday, take a better look into the popular Latin American sports.
Less popular but equally successful we find sports like judo, boxing and wrestling. Some of the world’s best fighters are either Latin American or descent from Latin Americans like Floyd Mayweather.
Cuban students studying in the U.S brought baseball to Latin America between the 1850s and 1860s. Now, analysts estimate that just under a third of current baseball players in the United States come from Latin American or are descendants of Latin Americans.
Polo was defined as the national sport of Argentina in 1953.
Also popular in Argentina is basketball. The men’s team has been very successful in the last decade; they have won few Olympic medals, including a gold medal in Athens 2004. Aside from the United States, Argentina is the only country to have won five of FIBA’s (International Basketball Federation) most important titles in the sport.
Volleyball is consider by some the second most popular sport in Latin America, and south American countries have been a dominant force in this sport in the last decade. Volleyball and especially beach volleyball is so popular because most of the countries in Latin America have the perfect environment to practice the sport and is also fairly cheap. During the last Olympics, Brazil received three medals in volleyball competitions.
Depending on water availability, swimming proves another popular Latin American sport. Unfortunately, some Latin American countries don’t have enough resources to organize the sport; this is why Latin America has produced some great swimmers, but inconsistently. It’s also why the sport hasn’t been too successful at a national level.
Looking ahead, sports enthusiasts should take note of these popular Latin American athletics. For the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Latin American countries will have a “home field” advantage, especially Brazil–the host nation. They will bring as many athletes as possible, and they will most likely dominate some sports like soccer and volleyball, and they will compete hard in water sports and will maybe offer a few more surprises.
Cover Photo Source: YanLev