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Differences between USA and Spain in sports

April 21, 2010

Spanish FlagUSA Flag

Today was the last real lecture day in my Sport & Culture in Spain class. We went over a general differences between the United States and Spain in terms of sports. I thought they would be interesting the share:

Mass Media

– There are no sport daily newspapers
-ESPN is the main sport power
– Focus on ‘great’ events like the World Series, Superbowl…etc.
– Average opinion news
– Pay-per-view
-Radio broadcasted games Mundo Deportivo

– Has 4 sport dailies: Mundo Diportivo, Marça, AS, and Sport
– Focus on soccer, but there is also a “polideportivo” section where they focus on other sports like basketball, handball and formula 1
– Opinion sports news
– Sports radio shows: Carrusel


– No real violence, mainly between players

– Between fans
– Politics (check out my other post)
– Hooliganism: fights and brawls between rival fan groups, young gangs. They use soccer as a way to express their emotions and feelings; wanting to be the best supporters, best singers and protect the club’s colors. Hooliganism is its own society. People join for the excitement, sense of belonging, defending their territory and their group; and they must be violent, wear the same clothes, symbols, hair cut…etc.
– Connected with racism: many players have become victims of racial slurs from fans. One of many reasons for these tauntings is to try and disturb a player with a key role in the game. FC Barcelona’s Thierry Henry has been the victim of verbal abuse from fans, being called “monkey” and fans have even thrown bananas onto the pitch. In response to this he launched a campaign with Nike called “Stand up and Speak Up,” in hopes to inform people about racism in sports. The trouble is institutions don’t create rules or laws for this type of behavior.

Thierry Henry

“Sometimes you don’t understand quite how hard it is to keep cool out there on the pitch in the middle of this kind of thing.

“We can’t do anything on the pitch. If we say something back, we would either get a red card or a ban for I don’t know how long.”

— Thierry Henry

Below is a video my professor Marcos showed us in class about racism in European soccer, very interesting but 10 minutes long.


– Everybody supports the national team
– Politics and sport are not closely related
– Citizens do not vote for a politician to run their teams

– Autonomic debate in terms of national team. Although someone might live in Spain, that doesn’t mean that they support the Spanish national team. They might support their other home country.
– Several teams are related to political groups: Madrid (conservative voters), Barcelona (Catalan)
– Franco’s ambassadors who tried to have the public support his ideas
– Barcelona representing Catalonia


– College sports are huge: large fan attendance and broadcasted games
– Players are well-known

-College sports do not exist
– Trade players to teams when they are young. Messi was traded from Argentina to FC Barcelona when he was only 11.
– Consider younger players to become professional and get a salary, unlike United States college sports which are unpaid.

Women in sports

– Stars: Mia Hamm, Williams sisters, Michelle Kwan
– Professional leagues: basketball, golf, tennis
– Important women college sports

– Stars: Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (tennis,) Gemma Mengual (synchronized swimmer,) Laina Sanz (biking) and Milene Domingues (soccer player and model who became famous from dating famous soccer player Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, pictured below) Milene Domingues
– Poor significance in the press
– Soccer as a professional league, but basketball as amateur


Sport Variety

– Racket ball, pickle ball
– and many more
– The winners are always changing, never really constant

– Soccer
– Formula 1
– Basketball
– In terms of winning in soccer, Madrid and Barcelona are always favored

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 4:18 pm

    I’m reading this a year after you posted, but there’s shockingly little info comparing sports in the US and Spain online and I need it for a study abroad class. Thanks!

    • April 17, 2012 6:48 pm

      Glad to have helped! I took a “Sport Culture in Modern Spain” class and this was taken directly from my notes. My teacher from that class has a Twitter if you would like it, I’m sure he could answer more questions!

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