As it is the case in other Latin American countries, the practice of sports in Venezuela is heavily influenced by the sports culture in the United States. The most popular sport in this South American country is baseball, followed by football and basketball. In this post you will find out some interesting facts about the favourite Venezuelan sports.
The popularity of baseball in Venezuela can be traced back to the 1940s, when the national team defeated the world’s favourite (Cuba). This rather unexpected victory led to the foundation of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League in the mid 1940s. Since that point onwards, Venezuelan baseball players have been “exported” en masse to other leading baseball leagues, and especially to the Major League in the United States, where more than 280 Venezuelans have played professionally since the 1940s. In fact, the national season only runs between October and February, as during the rest of the year the best Venezuelan baseball players are busy playing for other teams abroad.
Although Venezuelans have been football fans for quite a few decades, this sport did not become professionalised in the country until 1957. The national team has not fared particularly well in international competitions, possibly because of its relatively short history and lack of experience. To top it up, the national football team has to compete against some of the world’s best ensembles, such as Argentina and Brazil, and it is obvious that any comparisons in this respect are odious. The team’s best performance ever took place in 2007, when they made it to the Copa America’s quarter finals undefeated.
Basketball is big in Venezuela, and the national team is one of the best in the region. Since the 1980s, the Venezuelan basketball team has made it to the top ten best teams in the FIBA Americas Championship pretty much every year, where they were second in 1992 and third in 2005. The country has produced some renowned basketball players who have gone on to play in other major leagues. This is the case of the Sacramento Kings’ point guard Greivis Vasquez and of former Houston Rockets’ shooting guard Oscar Torres.