A belated report on the Razorback basketball team’s trip to Spain to play several club teams and, not incidentally, soak up some foreign culture.
Jeff Long, athletic director at UA, distributes a regular e-mail. His Long Term Report on Aug. 19 was something of a travelogue on the team’s trip to Spain. Long and his wife were among several at the university who went along on the 10-day trip with stops in Madrid, Albacete and Barcelona. He wrote:
An international trip is more than just an opportunity for extra court time for an emerging basketball team, the trip fits hand in hand with our mission of developing student-athletes to their fullest potential through intercollegiate athletics.
While touring, Long noted that the players themselves were attractions, presumably standing out for their altitude.
Long included some Rick Steves-style notes on cuisine.
On a more short term basis, our student-athletes were engaged in adapting to a very different palate than they enjoy in the comfort of Northwest Arkansas. There were hamburgers that may have been meat, but without video review, there is little to determine whether the vendors were putting the cow before the horse.
For the most part, the student-athletes mostly took the adjustment in stride. Thankfully the familiarity of some Golden Arches at McDonald’s, provided a brief respite and a taste of home.
That is not to say there were not many Tapas to choose from. Tapas are a wide variety of snacks and appetizers in the Spanish culture. And while the term Tapas was thrown around liberally, it referred to something different every time we tried it. Food is a focus of Spanish culture and there were many chicken and fish dishes to try and the seemingly ever present Paella rice dish featuring chicken, rabbit, beef, pork or fish. And, for those looking for a little more familiar flavor, the Domino’s Pizza in Albacete was a nice reprieve.
Like most travelers, the basketball players were happy to head home.
As you might expect from 18-21 year olds, they did not always appreciate the schedule of events or their perceived value on paper. But, once we were out experiencing the culture and landmark, I know they gained a better understanding of the world abroad and their own country of origin. Nothing made that more clear than when they started the chants of U.S.A., U.S.A. as instructions were given on the bus about preparing to return home.
Long wrote more, too.