Sports in Spanish: Basketball Vocabulary and Popularity
Are you ready to learn about sports in Spanish? The beauty of sports is how they unite people, transcend borders, and generate emotions (and money) all over the world. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, everybody can understand sports. One of the biggest sports in the world nowadays is basketball. The third biggest, by some estimates, with 2.2 billion fans around the world. Basketball in Spanish-speaking countries is very popular, with a huge fan base and some of the best players in the world.
For all these reasons, let’s learn about basketball in Spanish!
The Golden Generations
In Latin America, the love for the game has grown exponentially in the last decade. The NBA has been working really hard to increase basketball’s popularity in the region, scheduling pre-season and regular-season games in countries like México, Puerto Rico, and Brazil.
The “golden generation” of Argentinian basketball players that won the gold medal at the Olympic Games of Athens 2004, also played a big role in Latin America’s current love for basketball. Players like Manu Ginóbili and Andrés Nocioni, who not only played in the NBA for years but also beat USA’s “Dream Team” a couple of times, became role models for kids all over the continent.
Spain’s own “golden generation” produced big-name players like Shaquille O’Neal’s sidekick, Paul Gasol, for years, and several trophies including World Championship and Olympic silver medals. Needless to say, when a country has such great triumphs in the international arena, the game’s popularity explodes.
That’s exactly what has happened with basketball in Spanish, an explosion of interest for the game and of young people playing it. And this success is only expected to keep growing in the future.
Basketball Culture in Latin America
Granted, the basketball culture isn’t at the same level of fútbol culture in Latin America, but the gap is closing and every year more fans and players keep adding to it. These days, you can find a basketball court in most parks and schools in the region.
Fans follow their favorite teams on TV or via the internet, which has also played a big role in the expansion of the game. Kids from Mexico to Argentina not only know who LeBron James and Steph Curry are, but they model their game after them and—arguably the most crucial of all–they buy their brand-name shoes.
Basketball culture in Latin America helps to “shape a sense of community” and keep young people away from drugs and gangs. Many youngsters who don’t feel attracted to fútbol (soccer) see themselves as outsiders and find refuge in basketball. In this way, the culture is very similar to that in the United States.
Sports in Spanish: Basketball Vocabulary
Now that we’ve seen how popular basketball is in Latin America and Spain, let’s turn our attention to useful vocabulary in Spanish. Because sports are a vehicle to meet people and make new friends, here you have some of the most important terms of basketball in Spanish:
(el) básquetbol, (el) baloncesto – basketball (game)
(el) balón, (la) pelota – basketball (ball)
(la) cancha, (la) pista – court
(la) canasta, (el) enceste) – basket (score)
(la) canasta, (el) cesto – basket (goal)
(el) tablero – backboard
(el) aro – rim
(el) rebote – rebound
(la) banca, (el) banquillo – bench
(la) asistencia – assist
(el) tiro, (el) lanzamiento – shoot
(el) pase – pass
(el) robo – steal
(el) bloqueo – block
(el) tiro libre – free throw
(el) tiro de campo – field shot
(el) triple – three-pointer
(el) árbitro – referee
(el) tiempo extra, (la) prórroga – overtime
(el) marcador – score
clavar – to dunk
anotar, encestar – to score
pasar – to pass
robar – to steal
bloquear – to block
tirar – to shoot
defender – to defend
atacar – to attack
(el) escolta – shooting guard, small forward
(el) base – point guard
(el) centro, (el) poste, (el) pívot – center, pivot
(el) alero – forward
(el) ala pívot – power forward
Now that you know some basketball terms in Spanish, perhaps you want to try them in a real conversation! Sign up for a free class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers and talk about basketball in Spanish!
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