The apparent victims of overbreeding, fighting bulls are falling all over Spain's plazas de toros these days. The phenomenon has become so commonplace that a Madrid veterinarians' organization is offering $25,000 to anyone who can come up with an explanation and a remedy. But clumsy bulls are only one of several problems plaguing a sport that may be going the way of the donkey cart in modern Spain.
Spanish bullfighting is in a decline. It is no longer the national sport and the matador de tows is no longer a public hero. In part, the change is sociological. As Spain pulls itself into the postindustrial age, its young men are more interested in the rewards of consumerism than in risking their lives in the bullring. There are new escapes from poverty and, evidently, new ways for the public to amuse itself. Attendance at corridas is falling—because of changing attitudes toward the sport's undoubted cruelty, perhaps—and bullring impresarios in Madrid, at least, have found political rallies more profitable than bullfights. As gate receipts have decreased, demands from breeders, matadors and picadors have escalated. Spain's bullfight peones struck for higher pay this year and nearly forced cancellation of the Valencia Fair, which annually kicks off the season. The final settlement provided a raise for the peones, with a resultant increase in ticket prices and a decrease in attendance.
Meanwhile, the bulls keep falling. The recent ferias of Valencia and Seville were ruined because many of the tows were on their knees half the time. In the year's first televised feria, one bull fell five times in a 90-second period. There are several theories why the bulls fall, but no one has yet come up with a definitive answer. Some blame inferior feed. Others believe the problem began during the heyday of El Cordob�s, now retired, whose spectacular style attracted a huge audience for bullfighting and an equally huge demand for bulls. In the rush to provide quantity, quality was sacrificed and an inner-ear defect may have become dominant after several generations of bulls. In the old days, substandard bulls were rejected and replaced. No longer; it is too expensive. So the fight goes on—during those moments when the bull is on its feet.
As every NBA fan knows, John Havlicek of the Boston Celtics has spent few stationary moments on the basketball court. Just how far Havlicek has run, however, may stun even Red Auerbach.
Earlier this season Havlicek received a pedometer for his birthday. In a game against Chicago, he strapped it on and, running with the zest that belies his 37 years, logged eight miles in 43 minutes' playing time. Applying these figures to Havlicek's 15-season career, Hondo probably qualifies as history's greatest distance runner—on wood.
Counting his NBA regular season, playoff and All-Star Game appearances, Havlicek has a grand total of 50,815 minutes, or 846.92 hours, of playing time. If he covered up to eight miles every 43 minutes—and he undoubtedly ran more earlier in his career—that's a total of 9,453.95 miles, a distance equivalent to 360 Boston Marathons. Throw in Havlicek's high school and collegiate games and it is reasonable to assume he has traveled more than 10,000 miles across the gym floors of America.
Way to go, John.
FORTUNA'S ILL FORTUNE
As its 2-14 record will attest, this has not been the best of all possible baseball seasons for Fortuna High School of Eureka, Calif.