Bullfighting in Spain is deeply controversial. It is called a “fine art” by its supporters and a “blood sport” by its critics.

Years ago, during the famous bullrun, I had the opportunity to watch a live bullfight in Pamplona, Spain. I have always associated Spain with bullfights so it came as no surprise that I would want to watch a bullfight while being in Spain. I thought that I knew what happened during a bullfight, but seeing it live opened my eyes. After watching this gruesome ‘sport’ up close I will never recommend it or even condone it again.

So that you can decide for yourself whether you want to see one when you are in Spain I will tell you a bit about what happens during a bullfight. 

The bullfight started with a parade in the ring where everybody involved in the bullfight presented themselves to the public. It looked like they were getting ready for a show. Moments later a door opened and the first bull entered and the spectacle started for real. It was cruel and I had to force myself to watch and not to leave.

The bullfighter entered on horseback, armed with barbed sticks. He then proceeded to tease the bull and stuck these small barbed sticks into the charging bull’s back. By the time the bullfighter had finished with this ‘ritual’, blood was dripping down the bulls back and you could see that he was in pain.

Next the bullfighter armed himself with a lance which he stuck into the flank of the bull. Only after the bull had been tired out and stuck full of holes did the bullfighter get off his horse and take up his muleta. A muleta is the red cloth that he used to coax the bull.

The bullfight ended quite bloody when the bullfighter used his sword to kill the bull. Personally I thing there is nothing noble or sportsman like about this.

Here are the Arguments For Bullfighting.

  • Bullfighting is an art form that should be seen as an equivalent to dance, or music.
  • It is a traditional in many areas and in places like Spain, it is living history. Bullfighting has existed for much of human history, and within Spain it dates back at least 1,000 years.
  • Bullfighters are skilful and behind all the pomp and ritual, the bull is actually being killed in a very efficient manner.
  • The bull is usually eaten after a fight, so its death is not in vain.
  • Far more bulls are killed to be eaten by abattoirs than die in the bullring.
  • In some places bullfighting is perceived as being an integral part of the regional culture.

Here are some Arguments Against Bullfighting

  • The practice is barbaric. Essentially, bullfighting is ritually slaughtering an animal purely for fun.
  • Tradition and recognition does not make it art. Other once-traditional animal sports, from the fierce lion-tiger battles of Ancient Rome to medieval bear-baiting and cockfighting, are now deem wrong,so why is bullfighting any different.
  • As there is no competitive element, bullfighting cannot strictly be called a sport, but it is seen as an art form by its fans.
  • It is not just the bulls who suffer, horses are also injured and suffer death (not to mention the bullfighters themselves, who can be maimed or killed as well).
  • The death of the bull is extended and painful, making it unnecessarily cruel. The argument that the bullfighter kills the bull efficiently is clearly questionable, if anything, the customs of the spectacle demand that the animal’s death is drawn out, rather than quick.
  • People who are for bullfighting play down the amount of bulls killed, but figures gathered by animal rights groups suggest that 2,500 bulls are killed in Portugal each year and in Spain the figure is closer to 30,000.
  • Bullfighting inflicts unspeakable suffering on the animals, from the confusion and panic created by the crowd noise to the physical abuse the bull will sustain throughout the spectacle. The death might be quick, but the fight is barbaric.

Compassionate people understand that this cruel and bloody spectacle is needless and unjustifiable violence, and opposition to bullfighting is growing both within Spain and around the world. And each year there has been a decline in the number of bullfights.

What do you think?

Are you for or against bullfighting?