With a population estimated at 10,000,000 to 11,000,000, the Dominican Republic is a pretty large sporting nation. In spite of the island’s problems – and as with many nations with difficulties – sport provides a critical relief from the trouble and turbulence often found elsewhere in the country.
Perhaps surprisingly, and no doubt from the influence of the United States, baseball is the most popular sport in the country. The national league features only 6 teams, and runs for 4 months of the year from around October to January. Incredibly, it has been reported that the Dominican Republic has more Major League basball players than any other nation – apart from the U.S. of course. There is coverage of Dominican baseball on the Major League Baseball website, for anybody interested in more detail.
Soccer is also one of the country’s top sports. The national soccer team hasn’t perhaps been as successful on the world stage as its baseball compatriots have been in the major leagues, however, which prevents the sport from gaining further in popularity. Donations are sometimes made of football / soccer kit, such as footballs and football boots to allow young players to enjoy the sport in the way that many in wealthier countries are able. There have even been schemes to arrange for the sending of soccer equipment like goalkeeper gloves to those grateful for it – where foreign companies will often arrange for customers to send old used products back, to allow them to be sent to those less fortunate.
The tough, fighting spirit of some Dominicans has perhaps contributed to the number of succesful boxers that the country has produced. Basketball too, is a major national attraction, including MBA players like Al Horford, shown here.
For further reading, there are some passionate sports blogs that allow you to follow Dominican Sports – such as this one on Dominican Sports news – http://dominicansports.blogspot.com.
The role of sport in a society faced with the problems of an emerging economy, like the Dominican Republic, is a critical one. Support for sport at a local level is vital in helping the people of the Dominican Republic, particularly the youth, find hope and goals worth striving for.