The Importance of Latino Athletes in the American Competitive Sports Scene

There are countless Latino athletes who have played a leading role in shaping the competitive sports scene in the United States.

Professional sports leagues have seen incredible growth in terms of global following, exposure and of course revenue. The major expansion of professional sports in the United States has led to another booming economy in sports betting apps.

More than half of US states have legalized some form of sports betting since the US Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

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The rise of the sports betting world that we have seen over the decades would not be possible without the many athletes who broke down barriers and opened countless doors for future generations of Latino athletes.

Roberto Clemente’s impact on Major League Baseball

Credit: Photo by Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images

It’s been 50 years since Pittsburgh Pirates icon Roberto Clemente tragically died at the age of 38 in a plane crash, but his impact on the landscape of professional baseball continues to be felt all these years. later.

Clemente broke down barriers for Latino players in Major League Baseball and changed the game of baseball forever. Clemente, who was born in Barrio San Antón, Carolina, Puerto Rico, got his big break when he joined the Cangrejeros de Santurce of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico (now Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico).

In 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Clemente via the Rule 5 Draft. He turned pro in 1955 and showed promise hitting .255 with five home runs and 47 RBIs in 124 games. It was just the start of something special.

Clemente breaking down barriers for Latino players paved the way for a long list of future Latin American MLB stars, including Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Mariano Rivera, Miguel Cabrera, Manny Ramírez, Pedro Martínez and Adrián Beltré.

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The current generation of MLB Latino superstar players includes Juan Soto (San Diego Padres), José Ramírez (Cleveland Guardians), Francisco Lindor (New York Mets), Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta Braves) and Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox) .

Not only have Major League Baseball’s many Latino players changed the game with their on-field play, but many of them have used their professional success and accomplishments for worthy causes.

For example, Ortiz — a three-time World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox — runs the David Ortiz Children’s Fund which provides support for children with heart health issues in the Dominican Republic and New England areas.

The Mariano Rivera Foundation strives to help needy families receive an education that “will empower them for the future.”

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The impact of these elite Latino MLB players goes beyond the baseball field. Many of them use their platforms and resources to help improve the daily lives of the communities around them.

Anthony Muñoz and Tony Gonzalez inspired a generation of football fans

Source: (Sports Focus/Getty Images)

Nine-time Pro Bowler Cincinnati Bengals legend Anthony Muñoz has been the heart and soul of the franchise for more than a decade.

The greatest offensive tackle in NFL history has become the second Mexican-American to earn a spot in Canton. But keeping his quarterback right and opening up lanes of traffic for rushers was only part of Muñoz’s impact in football.

A 2019 ESPN article by Adam Teicher detailed how Muñoz inspired fellow Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez is widely regarded as the best tight end of all time. He is sixth all-time in career receiving yards (15,127) and third in career receptions (1,325).

Gonzalez has Portuguese and Argentinian ancestry. In Teicher’s article, Gonzalez explained how he admired Muñoz when he was young. In addition to that, Gonzalez said he receives many kind messages from Latin football fans who have inspired him greatly.

“When I was younger, let’s face it, Latinos in the league were almost always kickers,” Gonzalez said. “But Anthony Munoz was definitely a guy I looked up to. I knew him pretty well and also Roberto Garza. But I always looked up to him and wanted to be like him. I was like him for a while while I was playing, then it’s the next one’s turn, like Victor Cruz.

“People, Latinos, come up to me and tell me all the time that they played football because they watched me with the Chiefs and they looked up to me and they loved me when they were growing up. They thank me for representing Latinos in the NFL. They tell me that I was their inspiration. I get that a lot.”

In Teicher’s article, Alejandro Ibarra also highlighted Gonzalez’s impact in the sport. Ibarra runs a Kansas City Chiefs fan club in Mexico City.

“Anthony Munoz was the first,” Ibarra said. “He was a symbol of Mexico for us. Tony Gonzalez broke through the barrier and showed everyone that a Latino player could catch passes and score touchdowns. This made him more influential. They drew more attention to Latin football players. People could identify with them.

Gonzalez played for the Chiefs from 1997 to 2008. He completed his final five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, even leading the franchise to three playoff spots, including two NFC South Division titles and an appearance in the game. 2012 NFC Championship.

Victor Cruz, whom Gonzalez mentioned in Teicher’s article, played a vital role in the New York Giants’ Super Bowl 46 championship season. Cruz, who was born to a Puerto Rican mother, spoke of his desire to inspire a new generation of Hispanic players in 2012.

“I think as this generation turns and guys like me and other athletes, there will be Hispanic kids who want to be quarterbacks and receivers and stuff,” Cruz said.

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