FIRST OF ALL, congratulations to Gilas-Pilipinas for a silver-medal finish in the Fiba-Asia Championship held Aug. 1-11.
The team, with Iran and South Korea, will go to Spain for the Fiba-World Championship on Aug. 30 to Sept. 14, 2014. This victory brings the country great pride.
The team could have won the gold, but lost to Iran, with a score of 85-71.
The country rallied behind the underdog Philippine team, with thousands showing support at the Mall of Asia Arena and the social media websites.
Battle cries of #PUSO were all the rage long after the game was over. Sportsmanship was evident, as people congratulated Iran and rejoiced at the fact that Gilas will be going to Madrid, where they might just get to play against team USA, a team stacked with NBA heroes.
However, some Filipinos went overboard and thought it funny to insult the Iranians. A lot of these comments were insensitive and downright racist.
I remember sitting at the Upper Box of Smart Araneta Coliseum for one UAAP game (which will not be disclosed). I arrived a little early, so I caught the game before the one I was to watch.
Fans of this university were calling the opponent’s import names, including demeaning and slanderous names such as “killer” and “monkey.” I did not expect it from students of this school, which I held in high regard until then.
At the NCAA in 2011, there was an incident that shook the league to its core. An inter-sport melee broke out on the San Beda College campus in Mendiola. It started because of alleged “monkey” chants by the volleyball team of San Sebastian College.
Racial slurs were reportedly directed toward Olaide Adeogun, who was still serving residency at the time. Up to now, there is not a shred of proof that it was indeed a racial slur as claimed by Red Lions coach Frankie Lim, or a volleyball chant as Golden Stags coach Roger Gorayeb suggested.
The residency rule of the UAAP is also unfair, since it curtails the academic freedom of student athletes. The imports undergo residency and can play only a maximum of three years. As long as the foreign player is qualified, why can he or she not play right away? What is the basis of the residency rule?
A lot of these imports, particularly the Africans, value the privilege of an education scholarship. Why give them a hard time?
There has been a move to ban imported players. The last batch need to be enrolled until June 2015, which will allow them to play for five more years. The league wants to have no imports by 2020.
I believe this rule is pointless. In the US NCAA, recruitment is worldwide. Gilas member Japeth Aguilar even made it to Division-1 school Western Kentucky University. Why should we treat people of other countries differently?
Going back to the behavior of fans, there is a fine line between cheering and jeering. Cheering is when one motivates the team to fight, egging them on to victory. Jeering is when one has to put
the other team down just so the
other can be motivated to fight.
This is what they call “crab mentality.”
We value pride, but some Filipinos misuse it to abuse others. Perhaps because we see ourselves as the underdog, we feel the urge to “fight back.”
When we feel insulted, we get mad, react violently, and try to justify it—“sila rin naman, kung anu-ano sinasabi, eh.” How hard is it, really, to be the bigger man?
I just hope that next time, we can practice sportsmanship, as a people.
And maybe next time, we can have a more meaningful, appropriate expression of “pride.”