9 Quirky Facts About Pato: Argentina’s National Sport
Most people assume that the national game of Argentina is futból (soccer). While soccer is a favorite Argentinian sport, the national sport of Argentina is actually pato.
This quirky sport dates back to the 17th century. It’s a combination of polo and basketball with an interesting history.
Pato means duck in Spanish. In the past, people played this sport with live ducks. Famous Argentinian pato sports players carried them in a leather basket with handles.
Today, players use a leather ball that’s similar to a volleyball with six handles at the pato. Well, the point of the national game is to score goals. To do that, players have to pick up the pato and pass it to their teammates, approach the basket, and score. Each match consists of 4 to 6 periods of 8 minutes each.
Keep reading for more quirky facts about the national game of Argentina!
9 Quirky Facts About Pato: Argentina’s National Sport
Check out these fun facts about the national game of Argentina. You’ll want to visit Argentina as soon as possible to check it out!
1. The Early Games Used a Live Duck
Pato has been played since 1610 between neighboring ranches. The first team to reach their ranch with the duck would be the winner.
The popular national sport has changed greatly over the course of time. They realized that using ducks was cruel, so now they use a ball instead.
2. Players Can Only Use Their Right Hand
The game demands incredible physical strength. Players have to pick up the ball from the ground without getting off their horse, and they can only use their right hand.
Whenever they want to pass the ball, they have to extend their right arm and risk the opposing team grabbing the pato (ball) from them. Some still consider this traditional Argentina sport to be too intense. Nonetheless, it’s 100% Argentinean and that’s why it’s still around and played in Argentina.
3. It’s Similar to Quidditch From Harry Potter
If you’ve ever read or watched Harry Potter, the game of Quidditch is similar to Pato. The only difference is that instead of flying on broomsticks, players ride horses in this national game.
Just as in Quidditch, players need speed, strength, skill, and adrenaline to play wholeheartedly.
The Argentine Pato Open is held in December at the Argentine Polo Ground in Palermo. So, if you’re ever there, it would be worth checking out this unique sport.
4. Pato Was Banned
The sport was originally too violent. Some players even died playing it. Because the players were so passionate about winning, it would sometimes lead to knife fights that would end badly.
The Catholic Church said that pato players who died playing would not have a Christian burial. They implemented laws forbidding Pato in the 19th century.
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5. Neighboring Ranches Often Played
This national game began due to estancias (ranches) and their rivalry. Every gaucho (cowboy) enjoyed this pastime and loved to challenge other cowboys to race.
They’d compete to see which cowboy could get the duck to their ranch the fastest. To add to the challenge, it eventually became a team sport.
6. There Are Pato Polo Seasons
Pato polo season in Argentina runs from October to December. The three most relevant polo championships are the Triple Crown. They’re played in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. These exciting Pato polo tournaments are worth checking out.
7. The Pato Is up for Grabs
Not only do players have to score, but they also have to ride with their right arm outstretched, offering the pato to the rival. If the player doesn’t extend the ball, it’s an offense called a negada (refusal).
The hand not involved in the tugging must hold the reins and have control of the horse. Tugging the ball from the opposing team is the most exciting part of the game!
8. Players Must Wear White Breeches, a Helmet, and a Riding Crop
You need the right equipment to play Pato: white breeches, a helmet, and a riding crop. Two referees are on horseback and another sits outside the field.
Because it’s so challenging, they have to constantly pause. This sport is all about impulse and running for it while trying to score and not lose the ball!
9. The Horses in Pato Are Like Formula One Race Cars
Pato horses aren’t just any horses. They have to be stable, strong, and fast! They cost about $7,000 on the local market but are then sold to Pato players for about $20,000 on the international market. The horses need to be well trained to endure such an extreme sport.
Pato horses today are at the highest level of polo horses and because there isn’t such a huge market for them, they can be quite expensive. Argentina hopes to create a TV audience for Pato in the United States because Argentinians believe it to be a prettier sport than polo.
Travel to Argentina and Have Fun!
Check out this video to learn more about Pato. This Argentinian national sport has a fascinating history, as well as a connection to the community. What’s amazing about traveling to Argentina is getting to know its culture and food. Having an immersive experience is the best way to become fluent in Spanish.
Learning Spanish is an ideal investment! In the United States alone, approximately 53 million people speak Spanish. The U.S. is the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. According to CNN, there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S. who speak Spanish in their homes. Sign up for a free trial class with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy before your trip to Argentina and find out why so many people around the world are learning Spanish.
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