With September/October being Hispanic Heritage Month, we here at Project Spurs would like to take time to reflect on the impact the Hispanic culture, in particular the Mexican culture, has had on the Spurs franchise.
For those of you who have never lived in or visited San Antonio, you cannot help but notice the huge Mexican influence throughout the city. From the city’s authentic Mexican food, people speaking Spanish in the streets, specialized stores, La Villita, or the colorful Riverwalk, all magnify the city’s proud Mexican roots. Remember Texas was once a part of Mexico and has been under Spanish rule before joining the United States. Though San Antonio is the seventh largest city in the U. S., the city and its citizens have never lost touch with their heritage and this is what gives San Antonio its charm and separates itself from other major cities in the United States.
San Antonio only has one major professional sports team in the Spurs. So it’s no surprise to see the Mexican culture’s impact on the Spurs (Las Espuelas) and how the franchise has embraced it.
When you go to a home game, you are greeted by Mariachis dressed in the traditional Mariachi traje de charro (suit of the cowboy) with a splash of Spurs flare, playing traditional Mariachi music and belting out gritos (cries). You cannot help but start to dance in the lobby of the AT&T Center once you hear the guitarrón (bass), trumpet, violins, and guitar begin to play. Also the concourse resembles the streets of Mexico with colorful lights across the ceiling, especially when you head to the “Mercado” (Market) in the concourse. Even the interactive area in the concourse is called “Fan Fiesta.” And a fiesta it is as you feel like partying and the game hasn’t begun.
The word “family” is a powerful word in the Mexican culture. It is the foundation of the culture. Looking around the concourse before game time and you will notice families dressed to the hilt in Spurs gear, parents buying souvenirs for their kids and scrambling around to keep up with their children. A Spurs game is an event that makes the family bond tighter. I speak from experience. I was able to be at the AT&T Center for game 1 of the 2008 Spurs-Suns series when Tim Duncan hit the infamous three. I saw that game with my father and sharing that moment with my father was much sweeter than Duncan’s three itself.
But before grabbing your seat, you’ve got to grab some food. So head to the South Mercado in the AT&T Center. Again the Mexican influence is everywhere. There you will find the best tasting margaritas and other Mexican food served to the fans. It’s also no surprise to find out an official partner of the Spurs is Taco Cabana. The largest Tex-Mex chain restaurant in Texas. Even during David Robinson’s Hall of Fame speech he mentioned a staple of Mexican food, the tamale.
Now you made your way to your seat but during the game do not be surprised to see fans wearing sombreros (hats) painted silver and black. Even former Spur James White wore a sombero during the 2007 Spurs championship rally in the Alamodome. Also be prepared to hear the loudest gritos from fans in the AT&T Center when the speakers blast the classic Mexican song “Volver.” So Spurs fans and San Antonians reading this right now, join me and at the top of your lungs sing “Y volver, volver, volver!“
As you continue your game experience, you might catch a familiar face in the stands cheering loudly for Tony Parker. Yes your eyes are not deceiving you. It’s her, Mexican-American film and television actress and native Texan, Eva Longoria-Parker.
The Spurs organization has woven the Mexican culture into the fabric of the franchise. It could have shunned it and gone “corporate” but it would have been a slap in the “face” of the city and its citizens who have supported them since day one. It is the perfect marriage of a city’s heritage in an NBA franchise.
Gracias a los Spurs. Gracias por todo que usted ha hecho para los fanaticos Hispanos. Y a todos mis compañeros fanaticos de los Spurs, canten conmigo . . . y volver, volver, volver!
Come by tomorrow as my partner, Michael De Leon, will profile Hispanic players to wear the Spurs uniform and how the Spurs can be the leaders in the NBA in marketing to United States largest minority, Hispanics. Also he will discuss how Spurs foreign scouts should not have any borders.