Many of our readers know about Inaki Urdangarin, probably the most successful player in the history of Spanish handball. The final role of his career was as a captain for the Spanish national team in the 2000 Olympics. I had met him earlier, of course, as he was always very approachable and friendly both on and off the court, but that’s where I got a chance to see how he nicely he juggled the final stage of his playing career with his family responsibilities. That’s where he first introduced me to his wife, H.R.H La Infanta Dona Cristina and we had a nice chat in their native language. But I must admit I got a bit rattled when he soon thereafter wanted to introduce me to ‘his mother-in-law’. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was about to face H.M. the Queen of Spain.
Anyway, Inaki, now better known as the Duke of Palma de Mallorca, is now an established family man and well into a professional career, drawing on his academic background in business administration. The interesting thing is, however, that after his transfer last year to a new position with Telefonica, the large Spanish multinational, he has now doubled the number of handball fanatics in the Washington D.C., area, as he lives across town from me in a Maryland suburb.
When his move first became known, I was joking with some handball players in the area that perhaps they could entice him to join their modest local team, and I suggested to the USA federation that they ought to find a way to rope him in and get some help with the propaganda efforts for handball in this country. After all, the Spanish made themselves ‘popular’ for their colonial spirit here in the Western Hemisphere a few centuries ago, so the spirit of converting the ‘hedonists’ from basketball to handball would be natural thing. Well, I figure that, more realistically, the former handball star has been too busy with work, family, and representational duties to worry much about handball in the U.S.
But I did get a shock the other day, when a friend drew my attention to a photo that was floating around on the internet:
bicycle riding is of course just fine; but that terrible way of bringing up one of his sons by allowing him to… well, I do not even want to mention the word here! Of course, I could not use words as strong as ‘treason’ when commenting on the acts of a member of a Royal family, even if I know that our handball friend would understand the ‘pique’ intended and save me from court marshal procedures.
But I hope this article will somehow in some mysterious ways get to his attention, so: I beg you dear handball friend: put a stop to this before it is too late. Tennis, in the spirit of Nadal, would be OK, especially given your position as the Duke of Palma de Mallorca, but not…. And I think the only way to make amends at this point would be to find an opportunity to make some handball propaganda among the ignorant Americans while you continue to live among us!