There are many sports I don’t understand. Take extreme ironing, for example. In this sport, people take their wrinkled clothes and iron them while doing something else—like rock climbing or scuba diving. Personally, I don’t like to iron in the safety of my own laundry room, let alone on the side of a cliff.
But the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain really amazes me. Who on earth is crazy enough to do this? Do they have a reason? Or do people just wake up one morning and say, “Ooh, here’s something fun! Let’s go to Spain next July and run from angry bulls who will try to gore us!”
Yeah, that sounds like a great vacation.
Look, it’s pretty much a given that the bull is faster than you. And any rancher will tell you to stay the heck away from the bull because their horns are lethal weapons. But the bulls have been chasing people in Spain since the 16th century. That alone begs the question “why?” I mean, it’s been several hundred years—you’d think they’d figure out that this is dangerous.
But apparently they haven’t. Instead, each July, the bulls get the joy of chasing a bunch of people who really should know better. And just to make it even more fun– the bulls are run not just once, but eight times over the nine-day San Fermin festival. So if you aren’t gored the first day—hey, you have seven more shots at getting a bull’s horn stabbed in your back.
And if the bulls don’t gore you, they can trample you. How thrilling is that? But don’t worry. Before the bulls are let loose, the participants—the people, not the bulls—are given a pamphlet that advises them that when they fall they should stay on the ground, curl into a small position and remain still because the bulls will instinctively TRY to step over them.
Excuse me, but TRY? If I were on the ground with a bunch of angry bulls jumping over me, I’d want a guarantee. I’d want to know that the bull would look at me and think, “Hey, I shouldn’t step on that smooshy, round thing on the ground sobbing in terror.” I wouldn’t want the bull to just TRY.
And of course there are always the lucky few who get gored and THEN trampled. A few years ago, a young Spanish man got that honor. And the television announcer doing the play-by-play actually criticized the poor guy. It seems he didn’t follow the pamphlet’s advice and tried to get up after he fell down. Do you see what happens when you don’t get a guarantee?
Most participants cite the thrill of the chase as the main reason they run with the bulls. I can understand that. But wouldn’t you rather be the one doing the chasing—rather than the one doing the running away?
And as for thrills, why run from bulls? I mean, if you want some excitement, I would think skydiving would be enough for you. There are airplanes, parachutes and lots of release forms involved. You don’t have to run away from some big angry bulls that apparently wait all year long to get their anger out on people stupid enough to be chased by them.
And what do you prove anyway? That you are idiotic enough to be chased by large creatures that run faster than you and have lethal weapons growing out of their heads? It’s just mind boggling to me. And get this—the fifteen people who were gored a few years ago were surprised that they were injured.
Gee, who wouldn’t be shocked that they couldn’t outrun a bull?
But then again, I’m not likely to be at the running of the bulls anytime soon. This is because I’m not a thrill seeker. I don’t even iron, for pete’s sake. I get my thrill from running around wrinkled every day. And I certainly don’t do any sports—unless you consider shopping.
Now that’s a sport—no bull involved.
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