Sport is a very important aspect in any Cuban’s life. Cuba is viewed by many as “the best little sports machine in the world” because of the number of outstanding athletes it has produced over the years.
Cuba has a long history associated with the United States and this also influenced the sports scene in the country. Baseball is the most popular sport in Cuba and it is considered the official one. In late 1878 the Cuban League was organized and the first game was played on December of the same year. In the 1940s, many of the leagues were composed by factory or businesses workers who represented their individual companies. After the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, the revolutionary government chose this sport as a symbol of excellence and it became an integral component of Revolutionary Cuba.
In 1961, the Cuban government replaced the former professional baseball system with new amateur baseball leagues such as the Cuban National Series. Post-revolutionary baseball in Cuba would be based on a socialist model of sports not driven by money, but by national ideals. The Cuban baseball is considered one of the best in the whole world and that is the reason why Cuban players are so successful in Major Leagues in countries like Japan, Canada, and United States. Players like Orlando “El Duque” Hernández, his brother Livan, and Rolando Arrojo, and more recently, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Piug, and Yulieski Gurriel, make us, all Cuban people, to be proud of our baseball.
It is a fact that baseball is the most important sport in Cuba. However, the results Cuba has achieved in other sporty disciplines like boxing or track and field locate the island on the top. Athletes like the three-time Olympic boxing champion Teófilo Stevenson and Javier Sotomayor, the world record holder in the high jump, to mention a few of them, have become legends and idols not just in Cuba but in the rest of the world. They are the patterns to follow by many future athletes and the inspiration of many children who want to be like them.
What is true is that Cuban people are involved in a world in which sports are one of the main pillars of the society. No matter if it is boxing, baseball, or track and field. “Sport is a right of the people”, Fidel Castro said. All Cuban people can enjoy and practice sports. Maybe that is the reason why Cuba is so successful in this category; sports are not just for rich people but for everyone. The talent cannot be bought, it can be found everywhere and in everyone.