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After the death of the baseball players Luis Valbuena and José Castillo on a road in Venezuela, the debate opened on whether sporting events should stop or continue
Venezuela is a country that loves sports, because, although baseball has always been the main pastime of its inhabitants, it is no less true that other disciplines and their professional leagues also have many fans and television promotion. However, in recent years, the fulfillment of the season of Venezuelan football (the ugly duck of sporting events in Venezuela), and basketball have faced difficulties. Many thought that baseball, possibly, would not reach the crisis.
Leer en español: ¿Debe Venezuela continuar realizando eventos deportivos?
But the reality is that nowadays no event escapes the severe crisis suffered by the Caribbean nation, making it increasingly difficult to sustain them due to factors such as the lack of foreign currency, little interest from elite players to live a season in Venezuela due to the increasing insecurity, as well as the decrease of heavy sponsors, who no longer have the condition to invest in something they do not consider as a priority in their balance sheets.
The tragic death of two players, as were Luis Valbuena (big league of the Angels of Anaheim) and the experienced Jose Castillo, in an accident caused by criminals on a road in Yaracuy, in western Venezuela, made many reflect on how far Venezuela, in its current condition, provides guarantees to organize a professional sports show taking into account adverse factors such as scarcity, insecurity, the lack of liquidity of the common citizen and that, in addition to the terrible state of the roads. Those who know Venezuelan Professional Baseball, know that the road is an important part of the championship. An aspect that should be taken care of and that the state is not.
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Baseball case: it was possible to avoid
Cities such as Caracas, Maracay, Valencia, and Barquisimeto, are separated by less than five hours by land vehicle and are precisely those that host more than half of the calendar matches. Since in that area -capital, center, and west- are concentrated five of the eight teams that make up the circuit: Leones del Caracas, Tiburones de La Guaira, Tigres de Aragua, Navegantes del Magallanes and Cardenales de Lara (team in which they played the deceased).
Normally, due to costs and logistics, the teams usually travel by land for a large part of the season and at night (once the games are over) due to the proximity between these cities and allowing them to reach their homes, preferably before, than spend the night in a hotel. You can discuss aspects such as speeding of the driver, and own decision of the victims of traveling in private vehicles, but the truth is that a nation with such poor roads cannot risk holding a tournament that is played in different cities and needs the use of these routes for the transport of athletes.
The situation is only different when the trip is to cities such as Puerto La Cruz, Margarita, and Maracaibo, by airplane. It is dangerous even in a country with another more normal situation, imagine in Venezuela. The death of a big gun like Valbuena was, after an accident caused by the underworld, was a fact that did not go unnoticed in the eyes of the world and that exposed Venezuela even more about its terrible living conditions. If the State does not have to guarantee a dignified life to its resident citizens, much less to visitors who obligatorily spend the night in the nation for the fulfillment of an event. In this case, security is even more important, because we are talking about a four-month campaign.
That the Venezuelan roads are full of holes, in the dark (the one who lives there hardly passes them at night), solitary and without security, is a high risk for the athletes who participate in this league especially, since it is played every day (unlike soccer and basketball) and being as important as it is for Venezuelans. Nothing generates more passion than the local baseball season. That is why these deaths invite us to reflect (even the most fanatical) about whether, beyond tradition and passion, the country is capable of hosting a professional sports championship of such magnitude.
Of course, the temporary or partial suspension of any sporting event depends to a large extent on its protagonists: athletes. It is they who also have an important decision on whether the conditions of the country are ideal for holding sporting events. In 2012, when the crisis was not so marked, he died in the same way as Valbuena y Castillo, the pitcher of the Tigres de Aragua, Rosman García, with the difference that he did not collide because of a stone cut in his path. Many years ago, the then big gun Richard Hidalgo received a bullet in the leg when he was the victim of a robbery.
In soccer, the Venezuelan National Team had logistical difficulties to receive their last home matches in San Cristobal against Colombia and Uruguay, as they feared for their safety. The coffee farmers traveled just the previous day and were only one night in the border city being escorted by a large number of police officers. In turn, the 'charrúas' preferred to stay in Caracas and travel by charter to San Cristóbal on the day of the match. Already until a world spectacle like the South American eliminatory one, began to be a problem for the selected ones that visit Venezuela, and it does not seem that the situation changes much of here until the beginning of the cycle towards Qatar 2022.
The Venezuelan state must assume its responsibility as an official entity and not carry more deaths of athletes in their conscience. But pay attention, that the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League and the players themselves must also decide if they want to continue taking risks in a nation that does not offer maximum guarantees. Fans can reflect and accept that sporting events in a country with the humanitarian crisis should be suspended, but it is they who have the least power of decision in the matter.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "¿Debe Venezuela continuar realizando eventos deportivos?"