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Sports in Puerto Rico

Sports are a very important aspect of Puerto Rican culture. Tainos played batú, a competitive ball game, for hundreds of years.

Most recently, due to the association with the United States, Puerto Ricans participate in sports which are popular in North America, rather than sports traditionally promoted in other Latin American countries. Since it was introduced in the early 1900's, baseball has been the favorite sport of Puerto Rico, followed very close by basketball, and boxing.

In addition, Puerto Rico has been participating in the Olympics since 1948 as an independent country. Puerto Rican athletes have the option to represent Puerto Rico or move and live (at least 3 years prior) in the United States to represent the United States in the games.

Besides baseball, basketball, and boxing, other great sports in Puerto Rican life are listed below in alphabetical order.

Baseball fans are devoted to the sport. The season champs head out to the Caribbean Series to face championship teams from several other Caribbean countries, including Venezuela, México and the Dominican Republic.

There is a well-organized amateur league with 16 teams and a new 6 team pro league. A current schedule is available from the "Federación de Baloncesto". Basketball courts can be found everywhere.

Biking & Skating
Enjoy the scenery as you ride thru the island. "Parque Central" has facilities for biking & skating, located in the heart of Santurce, San Juan.

Boating & Sailing
With the blue waters of Puerto Rico beckoning, it's small wonder that sailing is so popular here. The west coast from Mayagüez Bay south to Boquerón gets a lot of action.

You'll find professionally maintained lanes in Levittown at Tower Lane Bowling, Paradise Bowling in Hato Rey, Cupey in Trujillo Alto, Western Bowling in Mayagüez and Ponce Bowling.

Hundreds of beaches rim Puerto Rico and it a offshore sister islands, ranging from busy stretches alongside metropolitan hotels to desired beauties next to rural pasture land. The government runs five campgrounds with cabins at Boquerón, Maricao, Humacao, Punta Guilarte and Añasco. (For information, call the government's Recreation Development Company at: 787-722-1551 or 787-722-1772). There are other privately-held camping areas, offering both cabins and tent sites, throughout the island. Camping is also allowed in some of the nature reserves, but a permit is required. (For information, call the Department of Natural Resources at 723-1770.) A law was passed in 1995 forbidding camping on public beaches, unless camping facilities are available.

Cockfighting ("peleas de gallos")
The sport of pitting game-cocks to fight and the breeding and training of them for that purpose. Cockfighting pits are circular with a matted stage about 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter and surrounded by a barrier to keep the birds from falling off. The main (matches) usually consisted of fights between an agreed number of pairs birds, the majority of victories deciding the main, but there is two other varieties that aroused the particular ire of moralist. Cocks usually are put to the main when between one and two years of age. Before a fight, spurs of metal or bone are slipped over the natural spurs of the game-cocks. The modern short sput is 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) or less in length; the longer spur scales from 2 to 2 1/2 inches (5 to 6 cm). In ancient times, cocks were permitted to fight until one or the other was killed. Later, although some fights still are to an absolute finish, rules have sometimes permitted the withdrawal at any time of a badly damaged cock. Other rules fix a time limit for each fight. At all mains, the judges word is absolute law, even as to gambling. There is no appeal from his decisions.

Each year during the second week of May, some 100-120 athletes from cycling clubs around Puerto Rico and the Caribbean come together for the International Cycling Competition in Sabana Grande. Current racing information can be had from the Cycling Federation.

Puerto Rican coastal waters are prone to be a little murkier than the rest of the Caribbean. There are a few places where visibility exceeds 100 feet, but even the more normal range of 70 feet is still a good three times what you're lucky to get in California or much of the United States. Plus, the freshman runoffs attract teeming multitudes of fish, including large pelagics not normally seen so close to shore and mammoth "mermaids."
While Puerto Rico is especially known for its blue marlin, numerous other billfish and big game fish thrive here as well. Fisherman with their own equipment can try Lake Dos Bocas in Utuado and Lake Guajataca in Quebradillas.

Puerto Rico's magnificently conditioned links stood up to the world's best golfers. Both the ladies PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour finish their season in Puerto Rico. Some places for golfing: Hyatt Beach Hotel and Bahia Beach Plantation in San Juan, Club Río Mar in Río Grande, Palmas del Mar in Humacao, Berwind Country Club in Río Grande, Mayagüez Hilton and Cerromar Hotel.

For hikers, there are Commonwealth Forest Reserves scattered around the island. These range from bird-filled mangrove forest along the coast to dense sierra palm forest in the mountains.

Horse lovers of beauty alike will want to take a relaxing ride along the island's many trails, beaches and parks.

Puerto Rico has its own unique breed of horses -- the Paso Fino horse -- a beautiful, naturally-gaited horse whose exact origins are uncertain. Some Spanish authorities feel that the horse is a descendent of the Berber, the Andalusian and the extinct Spanish Jennet. What is known is that in 1510, Captain Martin de Salazar brought some horses under the orders of Puerto Rico's first governor, Don Juan Ponce de León.

The Puerto Rican Paso Fino is the most well known and has been developed as a show horse with a great deal of style. Today The Paso Fino's are used in all equine disciplines and are unequaled when it comes to the luxurious ride that they produce.

There are over 7,000 registered paso fino horses on the island and many special events and competitions are held throughout the year which are well worth attending. The two best known are the Dulce Sueño Fair, Guayama, the first weekend in Mar, and the Fiesta La Candelaria, Manatí, the first weekend in February. Riding instruction and rentals are available at the Equestrian Center and Hacienda Carabali.

Horse Racing
El Comandante, located at Route 3, Km 5.5, in Canóvanas, is one of the hemisphere's most beautiful race courses. Races are held all the year round (Wed, Fri, Sun and holidays).

With the many races and marathons held in Puerto Rico every year, one would think that running is the national pastime. The most important race is the San Blás Marathon held in Coamo in February. Others marathons are: the Enrique Rámirez Marathon in Lajas, the Women's Marathon in Guayanilla, the Modesto Carrión in Juncos, the Diet Pepsi 5mi in San Juan, and the La Guadalupe Marathon in Ponce.

The Puerto Rican surf has challenged tube-shooters and curl-riders since the World Championships were hosted at Rincón in 1968. Good places for surfing are: La Concha in San Juan, Aviones in Piñones, Pine Gorve in Isla Verde, Stop Eight and Condado Beach Lagoon in San Juan. Arecibo and La Pared in Luquillo, Los Tubos in Manati, Aguadilla and Jobos, near to Isabela, Ensenada Honda in Culebra. Surfing rentals are available at many water sports shops.

Scuba & Snorkeling
Puerto Rico is known for its easy access to coral reefs and their natural beauty. You will find a vast variety of places where you can obtain boats, equipment and certified professionals to make this experience and unforgettable one.

Puerto Rico has developed a very extensive system of attractive public beaches complete with changing rooms, showers and concession stands. On the weekends, these areas are packed with all manner of people and water toys.

With over 100 tennis courts are available, mostly in the larger hotels, you will have a wide range to choose from. There are also 17 lit public courts in San Juans Central Park, open daily.
Wind Surfing
Board sailors of all abilities will find conditions to suit them on the waters of Puerto Rico.

The favorite of many, facilities can be found around the island.

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Did You Know?

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. It became a U.S. territory in 1898, when it was acquired from Spain after the Spanish-American War.