It has been a good month for Mexico’s sports enthusiasts. The year got off to a bad start, after the unexpected failure of the national soccer team, El Tri, to qualify for the Olympic games in March. Soccer, or fútbol, is the national sport by a wide margin. I recall attending a huge gala party in Acapulco last spring featuring a large video screen focused on the speakers and entertainment. But the proceedings would start at least 90 minutes later than scheduled until the live satellite feed of El Tri’s soccer match had completed. Everyone seemed to think that this was pretty normal as beer and margarita swilling continued unabated.
Yesterday, Mexico’s Matamoros little league team advanced to the final championship game of the Little League World Series after defeating Japan in the semi-finals. They went on to lose to Hawaii 12 – 3, but to get that far was an incredible achievement, and illustrates the growing popularity of baseball in a soccer country.
In the Olympic Games from China, Mexico acheived three medals, two gold and a bronze. Although there has been some criticism by some of the country’s best atheletes to the committment and expertise of the Olympic Committee, the medal count should be applauded considering the questionable efforts and massive money expenditures that many competitor countries earmark for what are essentially just games. The Olympics have become very big business with pumped-up national pride overshadowing remarkable individual acheivement. Doping concerns and underage competitors make the news, casting a long shadow on what should be pure athleticism.
Nonetheless, we applaud and offer our congratulations to all of the members of the Matamoros baseball team and the Olympic participants. Viva Sportsmanship!