Formal bullfighting is an art, a tragedy, and a business. To what extent it is an art depends on the bulls and the men who are hired to kill them, but it is always a tragedy and it is always a business. Just how much of a business it is may be judged from statistics which showed that the Spanish people spent 20,000,000 pesetas ($2,966,000) on bullfights in 1911. Maximiliano Clavo who, writing under the name of Corinto y Oro, is one of the most prominent bullfight critics in Spain — his position on La Voz of Madrid corresponds to that of W.O. McGeehan on the New York Herald Tribune — disputed this sum at the time and gave figures to show that the Spanish public spent between 28,000,000 and 35,000,000 pesetas ($4,152,400 to $5,190,500) a year on bullfights. Since then the price of seats at the bull rings has doubled and in this last year there were 319 formal corridas de toros or major league bullfights in Spain as against 241 in 1915.
Every once in so often you read in the papers a stock story about how Association Football is putting bullfighting out of business in Spain. It is a story that is usually written by a newspaper man on his first visit to Spain, a visit which may be made during the off season for bullfights when football is in full swing. With rare exceptions the major bullfighting season opens at Easter and closes at the end of October. May is the fatal month for the bullfighters. Joselito, Granero, Varelito, all died in that month as well as many matadors of earlier days. May is the most dangerous month because bulls are at their strongest after fresh spring pasture and before the long, hot, debilitating voyages from ranch to bull ring in summer months. Bullfighters in May are not yet at the peak of their training after a winter's inactivity or else stale from the long trip to Mexico or South America.
After October many of the bullfighters go to Mexico, Peru or Venezuela where the season opens as it closes in Spain; others go to the bull breeding ranches of Salamanca to train during the winter with the young bulls and cows, and others spend the winter resting or recuperating. A visitor to Spain sees no bullfighting activity in the late fall, winter or early spring unless he goes out into the country; but to conclude that the bullfighting industry is dying out is as silly as it would be for a European visitor to deduce that baseball was finished because of the empty ball parks in America after the World Series.