4 min read

'No Winner' Declared In 'Sport' Played Only By Losers

No winner emerged this year at the annual Toro de la Vega festival on Tuesday.

For nearly 500 years, hundreds of men have chased a fleeing bull through the streets of Tordesillas, Spain, in a scene where, unlike at Pamplona's Running of the Bulls, the bull is the one being chased. Riding on horseback and equipped with sharp spears, the bellicose men pursue a bull in hopes of getting close enough to bring his life to an end.

Although many of the town's residents rally around the event, some also lack enthusiasm for the gory contest. "There are things I like more and things I like less," said Luis Guillermo Lopez Olea, who, according to the BBC, sold his prized bull named "Rompesuelos" (Groundbreaker) to the contest for €6,000. "Everyone has a right to their opinion, but my duty is to sell bulls."

This year, the nearly 30,000 spectators were met with about 10,000 protesters, who arrived at the event in defense of Rompesuelos.

Some protesters even staged a sit-in, but quickly fled once Rompesuelos and the ensuing men flooded the streets.

Politicians are under pressure from both sides of the debate. Last year, political leader Pedro Sanchez pledged to end the annual festival on live TV. Two days later, he made an about-face in support of the tradition, claiming he would "never take from anyone the enjoyment of watching [star bullfighter] Jose Tomas perform."

Despite protests, officials have held firmly that the event will still continue year after year. "Tordesillas is a microcosm of Spanish society and there are people who disagree, but locals are united against the threats and attempts to intimidate us," said the town's mayor when he spoke in Madrid.

By the end of the chase on Tuesday, Rompesuelos was speared and lifeless, but no winner was declared.

It is not enough to simply kill the bull. The contest has strict rules. A person is only declared a winner if he, alone, kills the bull within a designated area, the town's vega.

This year, three men teamed up to slaughter the animal outside the tournament's authorized zone. Although Rompesuelos was successfully killed, none of the three men were named winners.

At the end of the day, when the game is to chase and brutally kill a defenseless animal and its success is defined by death, is there ever truly a winner?

If you have tips, e-mail solon@thedodo.com.

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