My late dad used to quip: “When I was young, I used to be an all-around athlete. Now, the only athlete left in me is my athlete’s foot!!?!”
During the 90s, a friend of mine urged me to go back to sports-writing, knowing that I had been dabbling in sports journalism ever since I was in high school. I remembered my dad’s joke fondly, and I made “The Athlete’s Foot” my column’s foul-smelling by-line. My pseudonym then was Charly Gonzaga, and I eventually wrote for two sports mags; the Scoreboard Mag under Ricky Gargantiel (wonder where he is right now), and the Manila Bulletin’s Sports Digest under the late Willy Caballes. I was actually building up a name for myself then. Matter of fact, I even got an offer from the revered Ring Magazine! They wanted me to do an article on the Pacman for $175 plus $25 for every picture printed! (Big money, at that time.) Alas, the Pac lost to Thailand’s 3K Battery in his next bout, all but flushing that opportunity down the drain with it. But I really had a great time then, even though that was all part-time work, as I was still patrolling the hinterlands as a young officer in the army.
Sports was my very first love. My mom used to say that when I discovered the magic of the newspaper, I went straight to the Sports Page; and not the Comics Page, before graduating to the Movies Section, then onwards as was normally the case for young kids. When I was young, I dreamed of making it big in sports. I was so in love with sports – any sports for that matter – but sports adamantly refused to love me in return. Hence, I got nothing to show except for my offensively malodorous stompers from whence I got my by-line.
I stopped writing about a decade ago, as I gradually went up the military’s totem pole, and as the responsibilities and chores increased. But I’ve always wondered what I would have become, if I had persevered then. And I never failed to read the sports news, or watch the sporting events, every single day of my forced leave away from her.
Today, I have come full circle. I’m scratching my athlete’s foot anew, as I can feel the itch once again. Hello there, sports fans! I’m back!!!