Striking matadors could result in a lot of bull for Spain

Matador bull Though the story hasn’t received much coverage here in the U.S., Spain’s impending matador strike is big news in Madrid.

Especially if you’re a bull.

Even though no new cases of “Mad Cow” have been documented in fighting bulls — which seems odd, since the whole idea is to get them mad in the first place — Spain’s agricultural ministry insists that an eventual cross-over from cows to bulls to matadors is entirely possible. While some are calling matadors “cowards” for threatening to strike if testing for Mad Cow disease isn’t implemented by the start of bullfighting season in July, others applaud the stance, particularly those within the bovine community, many of whom have started wearing tennis balls on the tips of their horns as a show of support.

What makes this such a volatile situation is the long-standing traditions of bullfighting, which date back to a time when the first matador discovered that, for some reason, wearing a Mickey Mouse hat and a small crimson cape makes bulls REALLY angry.

Since then, even the trappings of a matador — called trajes de luces, which roughly translated means “really tight pants” — have become, like bullfighting itself, an integral part of Spanish tradition.

To help you better understand the sport, here’s a general overview of what happens at a typical fight.

According to the Beginner’s Guide to Bullfighting, six bulls are selected and allocated in pairs to three matadors at noon on the day of the event. This process is conducted by the event’s impresario (promoter) and takes approximately four hours, which allows just enough time for the matador to eventually squeeze into his pants.

When the president of the bullfight signals for the first bull to be released, a brass band begins playing “La Viva Loca” while a team of three assistants enrage the bull by flapping their capes at it and calling it “Geraldo.”

The main reason for this is to see how the animal moves in the ring. The other reason is to allow the matador enough time to change into a fresh pair of trajes de luces after seeing the bull.

Once this has been accomplished, the matador enters the ring with a small crimson cape, a curved sword and a can of Red Bull. It is at this point that he can dedicate the beast to an individual, the audience itself — or his corporate sponsor.

If he performs his task well, the audience waves white handkerchiefs as a sign of approval and affection for the matador; if the bull does well, it waves a small crimson cape and Mickey Mouse hat.

Whichever side you take in this stand-off, given that July and August are the busiest months in Spain’s bullfighting calendar, a strike by matadors could leave millions of fans in search of an alternative to their favorite summer past time — which just goes to show that, no matter how different a culture may appear on the surface, when it comes to the world of professional sports, all fans are used to a certain level of bull.

(You can write to Ned at, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

24 thoughts on “Striking matadors could result in a lot of bull for Spain”

  1. red bull stock would shoot up with your alternative lockout plan. would red bull drinkers be considered ‘scabs’ then? ps – i am personally more involved in squirrel cage fighting and the matador strike may not have a huge impact on me.

        1. Hey, it can’t be as bad as my mention of Bruce Jenner getting a full-body wax a few… posts… ago…. yikes — sorry about that. Yeah, some more bleach should do it 😦

  2. That is crazy; one would think the bull fighters would go on strike because they no longer felt like killing the bulls. I truly hate that sport and I was very happy we missed it when we visited Barcelona… oh no, it’s not bullfighting season what will I do?!! Drink some wine? Yes, I think that sounds like the perfect solution.

    Maybe the alternative will be indoor soccer.

    1. You DO know that soccer players carry swords now, right? Seriously, I hate bullfighting as well. If two people want to get into a ring or cage and kill each other, that’s their choice. The bull doesn’t know what he’s getting into and has no choice. During the Running of the Bulls, I root for the bulls.

      1. I root for the bulls always… I had no idea they were killed until a few years ago and then I HATED the sport (not that I cared much for it before).

        I agree two people can choose, they should do whatever they want, they can verbally say no. Uh, poor bulls… mean little buggers but poor things just the same.

        1. I wonder if there is a “Home” section and “Visitors” section at bullfights, like football, so that those who are rooting for the bull can sit together? Yes, these are the things my mind contemplates…

          1. I think no, I am sure there are people scattered all throughout that kind of wish the bull would own the Matador… but no home team. 🙂

            Do you remember years ago when that guy got a bull horn through his jaw? My thought was ahh well that guy just retired and now the bull gets to be let into the wild for he was clearly the victor… then they killed him. I was so upset, I fully support this “sport” being terminated.

  3. Well, If they were to compare how many documented cases there are of people who have been injured by bulls, against the documented number of people who have gotten mad cow disease, I think they would see that there fear is misplaced.

    I think if the bulls were given the chance, they would strike themselves, simply as a matter of pride. How great could it feel to defeat a man whose apparel would have made Liberace roll his eyes in shame. If your gonna fight a bull, Damn it!! Dress like a man.

  4. I thought of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and thought about how he tried to romanticize the bull fighting. Now all I can think of is the guy who the girls falls for trying to get in his tight pants! Hahahaha 🙂 Love it 🙂

    1. Lol! Without a doubt! Which explains why, after all these years of being ignored, they are really PO’d. Think “Bull’s Eye on the Straight Guy.”

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