September 1, 2010

It seems that everybody has an interest in at least one kind of sport. My husband is a football nut who also loves to run and ski. My son and daughter both like soccer, tennis, and squash. I like baseball and biking. And then there is the very athletic Comet, who excels, if I may say so, at a bit of agility, especially her beloved tube. Although some people question the exact definition of what constitutes a “sport,” I give it a bit of latitude and say that if something involves exercise and skill and is not intended to cause harm, then it can be considered a sport. And hopefully a sport involves some fun, too.


Bullfighting is considered a sport by some but not by me and others who have a concern for animals. It has been around for hundreds of years and is a cruel and inhumane practice exhibited solely for the pleasure of its paying audience. I have always thought of Spain as being the only country associated with bullfighting, but I was wrong. There are many other countries that participate in these exhibitions, including Portugal, France, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador. Although the style of performances varies in each culture, the resulting animal abuse is all the same.


During a bullfight, a trained performer, called a matador in Spain, carries out a series of steps designed to “entertain” the audience, while weakening the bull. The matador observes and tries to incite the animal, sometimes with a colorful cape, to get the audience excited. Then, often with the help of an assistant, called a picador, riding a horse, the bull is stabbed in a muscle behind the neck to draw blood and weaken him. Often, the anguished and wounded bull will charge with his horns and try to attack the horse, sometimes injuring him. Next, other assistants will attempt to impale the animal’s shoulders with barbed spikes or spears, causing further suffering and torture to the riled bull. In the final act, all of the assistants leave the ring to only the matador and the maimed animal. The matador waves his red cape, encouraging the bull to make passes in front of him, and then takes a sword and attempts to kill the bull with one blow; sometimes it takes multiple attempts. In some countries, the animal is not killed in the arena but out of the view of the audience. On rare occasion, the animal’s life will be spared, but the unnecessary maiming and suffering remain abhorrent and unforgivable.


Doesn’t sound like too much fun for the bull, does it? It’s not. The promising news is that people are starting to wake up and realize that bullfighting is not an acceptable sport. Attendance numbers are down in most arenas in Spain as well as other parts of the world.  In 2007, Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador, a popular tourist city, declared itself against bullfighting. Other countries, cities, and regions are beginning to follow suit. In a monumental and historic move this past July, the Parliament of the Catalonia region of Spain voted to ban all bullfighting. This is a HUGE milestone and it could very well be a turning point for bullfighting. Hopefully, other regions of Spain will hear the world’s praises of Catalonia and make their own steps toward outlawing this barbaric practice.


Bullfighting supports the idea that killing and maiming animals for entertainment is ok. All animals are sensitive and feeling creatures who should never be used for this type of entertainment. They need our help and protection.

Three things we all can do:


1.  Take an oath never to attend a bullfight or other “sporting” event that causes harm, suffering, or stress to an animal.


2.  Write or email the Catalan Parliament thanking them for their sensitive and sensible decision to abolish bullfighting in their region of Spain. Also, be sure to thank newspapers, magazines, and TV shows that talk about the cruelties of bullfighting.


3.  Educate yourself and others about the horrors of bullfighting. Lately, there has been more media coverage of bullfighting, which comes after several incidents in which bulls leapt into grandstands, injuring themselves and spectators. The attention on bullfighting can only help to educate others as to the ridiculousness and inhumanities of this exhibition. Be prepared to talk with classmates and adults by knowing as many bullfighting facts as you can.


More information is available from these and other sources:


CBBC—Children’s British Broadcasting Corporation


Fox News—O’Reilly Factor:


Humane Society International:


National Geographic Society-Newswatch:


NBC Sports

NBC Sports (part 2)


TIME Magazine:


WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals):