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February 23, 2006
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:: Spectator Sports in Mexico ::


Mexico's chief spectator sport is soccer ( futbol ). Mexican teams have not been notably successful on the international stage, but going to a game can still be a thrilling experience, with vast crowds for the big ones. The capital and Guadalajara are the best places to see a match and the biggest game in the domestic league, the "Superclasico", between Chivas from Guadalajara and Am?rica from Mexico City, fills the city's 150,000 seater Aztec stadium to capacity. Baseball (beisbol) is also popular, as is American football (especially on TV). Jaialai (better known as front?n , or pelota ) is Basque handball, common in big cities and played at very high speed with a curved scoop attached to the hand. Points are scored by whacking the ball hard and fast against the end wall, as in squash, but the real scores are made in odds and pesos, since this, for spectators at least, is largely a gambler's sport.

Mexican rodeos ( charreadas ), mainly seen in the north of the country, are as spectacular for their style and costume as they are for the events, while bullfights remain an obsession: every city has a bullring - Mexico City's Plaza M?xico is the world's largest - and the country's toreros are said to be the world's most reckless, much in demand in Spain. Another popular bloodsport, usually at village level, is cockfighting , still legal in Mexico and mainly attended for the opportunity to bet on the outcome.

Masked wrestling is very popular in Mexico, too, with the participants, Batman-like, out of the game for good should their mask be removed and their secret identity revealed. Nor does the resemblance to comic-book superheroes end with the cape and mask: certain wrestlers, most famously the capital's Superbarrio, have become popular social campaigners out of the ring, always ready to turn up just in the nick of time to rescue the beleaguered poor from eviction by avaricious landlords, or persecution by corrupt politicians.

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