Sport in Mexico

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Association football is the most popular sport in Mexico, followed by boxing.[1][2][3] Charrería is Mexico's national sport. Baseball is the most popular sport in the northwest and southeast regions, basketball and bullfighting are also highly popular and appreciated.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Mesoamerican ballgame[edit]

Ballcourt at Monte Alban

The Pre-Columbian people of Mesoamerica have played the Mesoamerican ball game for over 3,000 years. Archaeologists found the oldest ballcourt yet discovered - dated to approximately 1400 BC - at Paso de la Amada in Mexico.[4]

The exact rules of the traditional ballgame remain unknown; but researchers believe that the sport probably resembled racquetball or volleyball, where the object is to keep the ball in play.[5] In their Post-Classical Era (1000–1697 CE), the Maya began placing vertical stone rings on each side of the court, with the object of passing the ball through one. Several of these were placed quite high, as at Chichen Itza, where they stand 6 meters from the ground. Players would strike the ball with their hips or forearms, or employed rackets, bats, or hand-stones. The ball, made of solid rubber, weighed up to 4 kg or more, with sizes that differed greatly over time or according to the version played. Games took place between two individuals and between two teams of players. The ballgame played out within a large masonry structure which contained a long narrow playing alley flanked by walls with both horizontal and sloping (or, more rarely, vertical) surfaces. The walls were often plastered and brightly painted.[6] A version of the game called Ulama is still played in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Olympics[edit]

Mexico City hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics. It is the only Games ever held in Latin America, and it was the second ever outside of Western Europe, Australia, or the United States. Mexico first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900 and has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Olympic Games since 1924. Mexico has also participated in several Winter Olympic Games since 1928. Mexico has performed best in athletics, boxing, diving, equestrian events, and more recently taekwondo and football.

Mexico at the 2012 Summer Olympics[edit]

Mexico finishing in thirty-ninth place, the Mexican team brought home seven medals, including the first gold medal in football, and the rest of the medals in archery, diving, and taekwondo.

Traditional sports[edit]

Charrería[edit]

Charreada is the national sport of Mexico, it dates back to the 16th century and consists of a series of Mexican equestrian events. The most notable event is the charreada; a style of rodeo developed in Mexico in the interest of maintaining the traditions of the charro. A charro is a term referring to a traditional horseman or a cowboy of Mexico, originating in the state of Jalisco.

The Federación Mexicana de Charrería (Mexican Federation of Charreria) organizes charrería events.

Bullfighting[edit]

Plaza México, the largest bullring in the world

The Spanish colonization of Mexico introduced bullfighting into the country. The sport has been one of the most popular in the country for the last 400 years. One of the most prominent bullfighters of the 20th century in Mexico was Carlos Arruza. He was known as "El Ciclón" ("The Cyclone").

Typically, a Mexican bullfighting show includes a variety of Mexican rodeo events known as charreadas, and traditional folklorico dances. Thousands of bullfighting events occur in Mexico. In certain areas of the country, bullfighting generates a large amount of revenue from the local population, as well as visiting tourists. As evidence of the popularity of the sport, the largest bullring in the world is the Plaza Mexico, located in Mexico City. The anniversary of the opening of Plaza Mexico is celebrated annually with a special bullfight called the "Corrida de Aniversario".[7][8][9][10] The Plaza México has been host to many of the world's best and most famous bullfighters.

Basque Pelota[edit]

Basque Pelota is a name for a variety of court sports played with a ball using one's hand, a racket, a wooden bat, or a basket propulsor, against a wall. Since 1952, "The International Federation of Basque Pelota" has organized the World Championships of Basque Pelota every four years. Mexico hosted the world championships in 1982, 1998 and 2006. Mexico gave its best performance at the 2006 games when they led all nations with 6 gold medals.

Frontenis is a variation of the Basque pelota game, itself a derivation of real tennis. It was created in the year of 1916 in Mexico, when the idea of merging tennis and the traditional Basque pilota emerged. It is played in one of the largest courts in racquet sports with a tennis racquet that contains an optional custom double string called "doble encordado" and a tiny frontenis ball.

Regular sports[edit]

Team sports[edit]

Association football[edit]

Azteca Stadium, the sixth largest stadium in the world

Association football has been playing professionally in the country Mexico since the early 1900s. The first Mexican club, C.F. Pachuca, is still well in existence. Since 1996, the country has played two split seasons instead of a traditional long season. There are two separate playoff and league divisions. This system is common throughout Latin America. After many years of calling the regular seasons as "Verano" (Summer) and "Invierno" (Winter); the Primera División de México (Mexico's First Division) have changed the names of the competition, and has opted for a traditional name of "Apertura" (opening) and "Clausura" (closing) events.

The Apertura division begins in the middle of Mexico's summer and ends before the official start of winter. The Clausura division begins during the New Year, and concludes in the spring season.

Mexican football is divided into four divisions, beginning with the Primera División de México, Primera División A, Segunda División de México, and Tercera División de México. The teams are promoted and relegated by the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación. Relegation is a common practice in Mexican football. This includes with one club from the top league division moving down, and one side from the bottom league division moving up.

The relegation system does not punish clubs for producing a bad season. Mexican clubs are assessed on their previous five campaigns. Points are accumulated for five seasons, and are divided by the number of matches played. The club with the lowest percentage in the Verano division is regulated to a lower division. Each teams must earn their promotions.

Mexico's most successful clubs have been Club Deportivo Guadalajara with 11 championships, Club América with 10, Toluca 9 and Cruz Azul 8 .[11] Chivas are famous for using only Mexican players in their squad. Consequently, Chivas have long fed players to the national team.

Mexico has hosted two FIFA World Cups, in 1970 and 1986. Many of the stadiums in use around the league have a World Cup history. Sites such as Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City are renowned for their national and international history. The legendary Estadio Azteca, for example, is the only stadium in the world to have hosted two World Cup finals and is one of the largest stadiums in the world.

The Mexican national football team won its first World Championship FIFA Confederations Cup in 1999, finished twice as runner-ups at the Copa America, became world champions again at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru, and have reached the quarter finals twice at the World Cup. Recently, some players from Mexico have gone on to play in Europe, including Rafael Márquez, Nery Castillo, Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio, Pável Pardo, Andrés Guardado, Guillermo Franco, Carlos Vela, Giovani dos Santos, Omar Bravo, Aaron Galindo, Hector Moreno, Francisco Javier Rodríguez, etc.

Variants of association football[edit]

Beach football is a variant of the sport of association football which was invented in Brazil. It is played on beaches, and emphasizes skill, agility and goal scoring. The FIFA Beach Football World Cup has been held annually since 2005. Mexico finished as runners up to Brazil in its first appearance at the 2007 Beach Football World Cup.

Recently indoor association football has become a popular sport in Mexico, being included as part of the Universiada (University National Games) and the "CONADEIP" (Private School Tournament), which match University school teams from all over Mexico. In Mexico, "indoor" football fields are commonly built outdoors, and the sport is known as "fútbol rápido" (fast football).

The Mexican team Monterrey La Raza joined the Major Indoor football League in 2007 and finished the season in second place during its inaugural year. A previous version of Monterrey La Raza (1992–2001) won three championships in the now defunct organizations Continental Indoor Football League and World Indoor Football League.

Baseball[edit]

Revolution Stadium in Torreón is the oldest stadium in Mexican League

Baseball has been traditional known as the most popular sport in some regions of Mexico, specially in Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja California, Oaxaca, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.[citation needed]

Although there is some dispute about exactly when and where baseball started in Mexico, baseball has a long and colorful history in Mexico, particularly in the north, with historians placing its origin there as early as the 1840s. Today, baseball flourishes in Mexico, where it is played professionally with a 16-team Summer League, and an 8-team Winter League.

Over 100 Mexicans have played in the major leagues in the United States, including Cy Young Award winner Fernando Valenzuela, top 300 home run hitter Vinny Castilla, Gold Glove Award winner Aurelio Rodríguez, and AL batting champion Bobby Ávila. The first Mexican to play in Major League Baseball in the United States was Mel Almada, who participated with the Boston Red Sox in 1933.

The Mexican League was founded in 1925, establishing six teams, and playing all their matches in Mexico City. In the 1930s and 1940s, African-Americans from the United States-who were still barred from Major League Baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947-played alongside Mexicans and Cubans in the Mexican League. In 1937, legendary Negro Leagues' stars Satchel Paige and "Cool Papa Bell" left the Pittsburgh Crawfords to play in Latin America. After playing a year in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Paige and Bell joined the Mexican League.

In the 1940s, multi-millionaire Jorge Pasquel attempted to turn the Mexican League into a first-rate rival to the Major Leagues in the United States.[citation needed] In 1946, Pasquel traveled north of the border to pursue the top players in the Negro and Major leagues. Pasquel signed up close to twenty major leaguers, including such well known names as Mickey Owen and Sal Maglie, and a number of Negro League players. Ultimately, Pasquel's dream faded, as financial realities led to decreased salaries and his high-priced foreign stars returned home.

Currently, 16 teams divided into North and South Divisions play in the Mexican League in a summer season, which ends in a 7-game championship series between the winners of the two divisions. Since 1967, the league has been sanctioned as an AAA minor league.

In the winter, eight teams play in the Mexican Pacific League ("Liga Mexicana del Pacífico" or "LMP"), whose winner advances to the Caribbean Series against other Latin American champions. Although Mexican League has a long history, the Mexican Pacific League is the premier baseball league in Mexico today. It is played during the Major League Baseball (MLB) off-season, so many MLB players also compete in the LMP.

Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, has inducted 167 players, consisting of 138 Mexicans, 16 Cubans, 12 from the United States, and one Puerto Rican.[12][13] Distinguished players include Major League Baseball stars Roy Campanella and Monte Irvin, who played in the Mexican League in the 1940s. Nicknamed "El Bambino Mexicano", or the Mexican Babe Ruth, Héctor Espino was inducted in the Mexican Hall of Fame in 1988, after playing with San Luis Potosí, and Tampico from 1962 to 1984. His 453 home runs remained the record until Nelson Barrera surpassed him in 2001. Espino still holds the all-time records in many offensive categories.

The Mexico national baseball team represents Mexico in international tournaments, most notably the World Baseball Classic and the Baseball World Cup.

American football[edit]

American football (gridiron) has been played in Mexico since the early 1920s, and is a strong minority sport at Mexican colleges and universities, mainly in Monterrey. Over successive decades, more universities and colleges joined the championship, and four categories, called "Fuerzas", were created. The First fuerza became the National League in 1970. In 1978, this was reorganized under the name "Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano" (ONEFA).[14]

The Aztec Bowl is a NCAA sanctioned college division post-season bowl in which American Division III college All-stars face off against a team of Mexican all-stars.

The Organizacion Mexicana de Football Americano (OMFA) is a football league consisting of ten teams based across Mexico. Teams from the OMFA compete for the league championship each year and occasionally compete against U.S. based semi-pro football teams.[15][16] The Mexico national American football team has competed in the IFAF World Cup, which has been held every four years since 1999. Mexico participated in 1999 and 2003; finishing second in both competitions.

Raul Allegre is a former football placekicker in the National Football League (NFL) he played for the Baltimore Colts, the Indianapolis Colts, the New York Giants, and the New York Jets.

Basketball[edit]

Mexico has a few professional basketball leagues, the top professional league is the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional where the Halcones UV Xalapa are the current champions, the best teams of the LNBP advances to the FIBA Americas League where the Soles de Mexicali are the current runners-up of the Americas. In the northwestern states is the CIBACOPA competition, with professional basketball players from Mexico and U.S. universities. One Mexican, Eduardo Nájera, currently plays in the NBA. In 1996 Horacio Llamas made history by becoming the first Mexican to participate in an NBA game

Rugby union[edit]

Main article: Rugby union in Mexico

Rugby in Mexico has a long tradition dating back to the early 1900s when more and more Europeans were migrating to Mexico. Though Rugby has been a minor sport in Mexico, a rugby federation was established, and the sport has been steadily increasing in popularity, with around twelve teams competing in the top league. The Mexican sevens have achieved some good results in international tournaments.

Polo[edit]

Polo was first popularized by the Escandon-Barron family in the late nineteenth century. Three members of the Escandon-Barron family would win a bronze medal at the 1900 Olympics. The Mexican polo team also won an Olympic bronze medal in 1936, the last Olympic games which featured polo.

Mexico hosted the World Polo Championship in 2008. The World Polo Championship has been held every three years by the Federation of International Polo since 1987. Mexico's best finishes have been second place in 1987, and third place in 1995 and 2008.

Memo Gracida playing in Florida in 2005.
Photo by David Lominska

The best Mexican polo player is Carlos Gracida, who is also considered to be one of the best polo players in the sport. He has accumulated more tournament wins than any other athlete in the history of the sport, winning the Abierto Argentino de Palermo tournament five times, the British Open Gold Cup ten times, and the US Open nine times. Carlos' brother, Memo Gracida, is a polo player of international renown as well and a member of the Polo Hall of Fame. The two have teamed together to win numerous tournaments worldwide.

Racquetball[edit]

Racquetball is a popular sport that is played in Mexico. The Racquetball World Championships were first held in 1981 and have been played every two years since 1984. San Luis Potosí hosted the championships in 1994 and 2000. Alvaro Beltran was World Champion in 2000, and Mexican men have won the doubles titles four times: in 2000 (Luis Bustillos & Javier Moreno), 2002 (Polo Gutierrez & Gilberto Mejia), 2006 (Moreno & Beltran), and in 2012 (Moreno & Beltran).[17] while the Mexican teams have finished among the top three in men's and top four in women's since 1986.[18]

Paola Longoria was the #1 player on the Women's Professional Racquetball Organization tour at the end of its 2008-2009 season, becoming the first woman not from Canada or the USA to do so. She also won gold at the 2009 and 2013 World Games, and again is the first non-American woman to do so. Additionally, in 2012, she became the first player to win both the singles and doubles Racquetball World Championship.

Racquetball will be included in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara.

Ice hockey[edit]

Although not a mainstream sport in Mexico, ice hockey is played in larger cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, Villahermosa, Culiacán, León and Mexico City.

The "Federación Deportiva de Mexico de Hockey Sobre Hielo" (Mexican National Ice Hockey Federation) regulates all tournaments in Mexico. The Mexican hockey league includes 7 federation clubs and 8 independent clubs.[19] Mexico is also the only Latin American full member of the International Ice Hockey Federation and competes in international tournaments.[20]

Individual sports[edit]

Boxing[edit]

Julio César Chávez, Sr., six-time world champion in three weight divisions,[21] and for several years he was considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world[22]

Mexican sport is also known for its boxing tradition. Mexico is first in total number of world champions produced,[23] and has recently produced more World Champions in the last 30 years.[24] The first boxing champion Mexico produced was Battling Shaw when he became the Light Welterweight Champion by outpointing Johnny Jadick in 1933.

International Boxing Hall of Fame members include, Julio César Chávez, Sr., Salvador Sánchez, Ricardo Lopez, José Nápoles, Rubén Olivares, Baby Arizmendi, Pipino Cuevas, Chiquita Gonzalez, Sugar Ramos, Daniel Zaragoza, Miguel Canto, Vicente Saldivar, Carlos Palomino, and Carlos Zárate. Other prominent Mexican boxers include World Boxing Hall of Fame members, Kid Azteca, Jesús Pimentel, Lupe Pintor, Juan Zurita, and José Luis Ramírez. More recent champions include, Julio César Chávez Jr., Marco Antonio Barrera, Érik Morales, Juan Manuel Márquez, Rafael Márquez, Israel Vázquez and Juan Francisco Estrada.

Mexico's biggest rival in the sport of boxing is Puerto Rico. There have been many classic match ups between the two such as Sánchez-Gómez Gómez-Zárate and many more. Other great match ups are between two Mexican fighters and Mexican vs. Mexican-American. Good examples of fighting between two Mexicans are Barrera vs Morales and Márquez vs Vázquez. A good example of a Mexican vs a Mexican-American are Bazooka Limon vs Chacon, Chiquita González vs Carbajal, Márquez vs Díaz, and Castillo vs Corrales.

Tennis[edit]

The Abierto Mexicano Telcel is a tennis tournament held in Acapulco, Mexico. It is an event on both the ATP Tour (International Series Gold event) and the WTA Tour (Tier III).

Rafael Osuna is the best tennis player to come out of Mexico. He was ranked number one in 1963 when he won the U.S. Open Championship. Osuna led Mexico to the 1962 Davis Cup, becoming the first team from Latin America to compete for the trophy. Osuna would go on to win a Grandslam singles championship in 1963. He also won the U.S. Open Doubles Championship in 1962, the Wimbledon double's championship in 1960 and 1963, and a doubles tennis Olympic gold medal in 1968. Osuna was killed in a plane crash in 1969 at the age of 30. In 1969, the Intercollegiate Tennis College Association NCAA instituted "The Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award" in his honor. Later that year, the Chapultepec Club, renamed its stadium "Rafael Osuna Stadium". He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.

Auto Racing[edit]

The most notable Mexican professional auto racers have been Pedro Rodríguez, who was the winner of the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, and his brother Ricardo Rodríguez, who at age 18 finished second at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, becoming the youngest ever to stand on the podium, he was also the youngest F1 driver at that time. They were both considered among the top drivers before their untimely deaths. The Mexico City racetrack Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez ("Rodríguez Brothers Racetrack") was named in their honor. Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez has hosted several racing events including the Formula 1 (1962–1970 and 1986–1992), Champ Car World Series (1980–1981 and 2002–2007), World Sportscar Championship, Grand-Am, Trans-Am, IMSA, A1 Grand Prix, NASCAR Nationwide Series, Formula BMW World Finals, Champ Car Atlantic Series, Panam GP Series and NASCAR Mexico Corona Series.

More recently Sergio Pérez and Esteban Gutierrez have re-established a Mexican presence in F1. Behind the scenes, Jo Ramírez worked for a number of F1 teams, most notably as team co-ordinator for McLaren in the 1980s and 1990s.

The A1 Team Mexico is the Mexican team of A1 Grand Prix, the World Cup of Motorsport; having nailed two victories by Salvador Durán.

Adrián Fernández has became a popular driver in Mexico since the 1990s and reached his climax when he finished in second place during the 2000 CART season. Fernández co-founded the Fernández Racing with which he championed the American Le Mans Series and previously won in Champ Car, the IRL IndyCar Series, and Grand-Am.

Other auto racing events currently held in Mexico include the Baja 1000, the World's most important off-road race, taking place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula and with the Mexicans normally winning various categories. Racing events formerly held in Mexico include the Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey and the Carrera Panamericana, which is now held as one of the premiere Vintage racing events of the World. Rally Mexico is a round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Golf[edit]

Lorena Ochoa; the recently retired number one female golfer, pictured here in 2007

Golf is a popular sport in Mexico.[25] There are over 150 golf courses in the country. Lorena Ochoa, who was the number one ranked female golf player in the world before abruptly retiring in 2010, has helped increase the popularity of golf in the country.

Professional golf tournaments held in Mexico includes, the Corona Championship, MasterCard Classic, Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun, and the Mexican Open.

Taekwondo[edit]

Mexico has been competitive on the international level in the sport of Taekwondo. Over forty Mexican taekwondo practitioners have medaled at the World Taekwondo Championships.[26] Taekwondo made its official debut at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Mexican athletes won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2000 Summer Olympics, a silver and bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics, and two gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Track and field[edit]

The 400 meter event became popular when Ana Guevara became world champion in 2003.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/17/2317500/boxing-a-cultural-phenomenon-in.html
  2. ^ http://msn.foxsports.com/boxing/story/Manny-Pacquiao-Juan-Manuel-Marquez-III-sets-ratings-record-in-Mexico-111611
  3. ^ "A Road Trip, Mexican Style, to Watch the Cowboys." The New York Times. By JULIÁN AGUILAR Published: December 17, 2011 [1]
  4. ^ See Hill, Blake and Clark (1998); Schuster (1998).
  5. ^ Noble, p. 65.
  6. ^ Quirarte, p.209-210.
  7. ^ Pilot Guides.com: Battle to the Death: Mexican Bullfighting
  8. ^ 84% of Mexicans oppose bullwrestling cruelty
  9. ^ Bullfighting In Mexico - The Conquest Of Fear - Latino Style
  10. ^ Bull fighting in Mexico
  11. ^ "Mexico - List of Champions". Rec.Sports.Football Statistics Foundation. 
  12. ^ Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México
  13. ^ Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México
  14. ^ "La Página Oficial de la ONEFA" (in Spanish). Organización Nacional Estudiantil de Fútbol Americano. 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  15. ^ http://www.omfa.com.mx/bandidos.html
  16. ^ http://www.receptor.com.mx/masters/?contenido=2050
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ RACQUETBALL - International Racquetball Federation - IRF
  19. ^ MexicoHockey.com - Ice Hockey in Mexico - news, info, forums, teams
  20. ^ Mexico
  21. ^ "Manny Pacquiao Vs Julio Cesar Chavez: Tackling Invincibility". Ringside Report. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  22. ^ "Boxing News - Boxing Results - Boxing Schedule - Boxing Rankings - Boxing - Pound for Pound History | Awards". Theboxinghistorian.com. 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  23. ^ "Mexican Olympic Medalists". ExplorandoMexico. 2007-09-13. Retrieved 2011-04-25. 
  24. ^ Mexican sport
  25. ^ Noticias (in Spanish)
  26. ^ World Taekwondo Championships Results - TAEKWONDO HALL OF FAME

External links[edit]