Sports in Spain

Sport facilities and information

Sports in Spain

S ports facilities in Spain vary considerably depending on the town or area and are usually excellent in major cities and resort areas, although sparse in rural areas.

Many towns have municipal, all-weather sports complexes ( polideportivos) and there’s a wealth of private country clubs, sports centres and gymnasiums in cities and resort areas, most of which allow guests to use their facilities. All community developments in resort areas have swimming pools and many also have communal tennis courts and other sports facilities.

The cost of participation in most sports in Spain is reasonable and less than in most other European Union (EU) countries, with annual membership of a sports or country club. Most towns have sports centres and organise a wealth of sports activities and courses at all levels during the summer and other school holidays.

Sports facilities in Spain have been greatly improved in the last decade and now rival most other European countries. Many improvements have been tourist-driven, particularly regarding golf, skiing and watersports. Most Spaniards aren’t great sports participants and are more at home watching a football or basketball match on television (TV) in a bar than working up a sweat.

In general, Spaniards are more laid-back in their attitude towards sports and pastimes and they don’t work as fervently as northern Europeans and North Americans to enjoy themselves.

Spain’s athletes are prominent in many world sports, including soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, cycling and athletics. Other popular sports include swimming, handball, fishing, hiking, horse riding, jai-alai, boules, hunting, motor sports, volleyball and squash. Spain is a Mecca for watersports enthusiasts and sailing, waterskiing and windsurfing have a large following, as do aerial sports. However, football is the national sport and top teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona enjoy a vast following throughout the world.

General information about sports facilities and events can be obtained from TurEspaña, while local information is available from regional, provincial and local tourist offices, all of which publish information regarding sports events and local sports venues. Many towns also publish an annual or monthly sports programme ( programa de actividades deportivas).

Numerous newspapers and magazines devoted to sport are published in Spain, including three daily sports newspapers in Barcelona alone, although they tend to concentrate mostly on football. Note that a player’s licence (which covers all sporting accidents) is necessary to participate in competitive sports in Spain. Information about particular sports can be obtained from the Spanish Sports Council ( Consejo Superior de Deportes).

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Spain.
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