The most popular sport in the world is soccer and it is certainly king in Spain. Futbol, as it is called here, is extremely popular as a participant and a spectator sport. In the evenings walking around the neighborhood people are crowded around televisions in bars and restaurants cheering on their favorite team. I don’t want to start any arguments here among soccer fans, but several websites I visited showed FC Barcelona as one of the top three football clubs in the world as far as popularity and number of supporters.
We certainly saw a lot of interest in soccer and many soccer fields. However, we saw a number of other sports being played, some of which I had never seen before and others had a little twist to them that I hadn’t seen in the USA or Canada.
Street Table Tennis
I have certainly seen table tennis, and am a fair to middling player by the way, but I have never seen “street table tennis.” We saw these tables a few places. They are regulation sized table tennis tables except that the whole apparatus is weatherproof. The net is made of metal and the table itself is fiberglass or something like that.
This was a new one to me. Think of table tennis played with a soccer ball. The rules of soccer apply – no hands, hit the ball with your head, feet, chest, etc.
Volleyball is very popular on the beaches of Barcelona. I also saw something that I think is called “beach tennis.” It looks like it is played on a court very similar to a volleyball court, but with racquets and a ball.
Now we didn’t actually see this sport played, but there were lots of advertisements for it on billboards and posters and a lot of the sporting goods shops sold the racquets for this sport. It looks like a cross between tennis and squash. It is played in an enclosed court with four walls and a net in the middle. Like squash or racquetball, you are allowed to bounce the ball off the floor and the walls. The racquet itself is solid with a bunch of holes in it. At a sporting goods store we stopped in at, I talked a little with the person there and they told me that it is a very popular sport in Spain and Argentina.
Of course I have seen pole vaulting before. What I haven’t seen is a specific pole vaulting club or public demonstration. One day in the shopping center they had a pole vaulting area set up and anyone could sign up and try it out. Lots of kids tried it. I resisted the urge to try for fear that someone would take a video and I would end up as the star on “Spain’s Funniest Home Videos.”
All in all, Barcelonians appear to be very active. Walking along the beach you see people playing volleyball, Frisbee games, exercising on beachside equipment, swimming, surfing, kayaking. There are lots of people on bicycles, roller blades, scooters and just walking around.