Walk Away

by: Buddy Resurreccion

published in The Inquirer Golf Monthly (August 2016 edition)

Buddy is a sportswriter,  an avid sportsfan, and a bosom friend with a super-creative mind. During his younger days, he was considered a major miracle worker and an upcoming golf mentor when he guided an erstwhile underrated jungolf team of Camp Aguinaldo Golf Club to a series of dominant, giant-killing victories in the late 80s. Aguinaldo Golf had been a perennial non-performer in the Philippine golf circuit then, but Buddy’s Midas Touch changed all that. 

Buddy became the darling of the golfing community by the early 90s, before he decided to leave all the drudgery behind to conquer new frontiers in Indonesia. He returned after a decade of the easy life in Menado, Indonesia, and is happy professing his dynamic wisdom and eccentric, yet brilliant ideas through Facebook.

Buddy continues to delve in sports today, through his column on The Inquirer Golf.  Relative to my article on Lessons Learned from the Latest Gilas Campaign, here is Buddy’s painfully frank assessment, with a great idea to boot.  

We are masochists.

We enjoy hurting ourselves. “Why build a dream that cannot come true?” But we still do it — we build a dream that cannot come true.

Perhaps in the really distant future when everyone else in this world has shrunk and we Filipinos have become the giants of this world, it will be possible.

Right now? We have to wake up from these improbable dreams.

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In basketball, height is definitely an advantage. (courtesy of pba.inquirer.net)

We should just walk away. Basketball is not for us. Never was, never will be. Give South Sudan 1 year of peace and they’ll make mincemeat of Gilas with or without the puso.

We already know this. Every Filipino alive knows we don’t stand a chance on the world stage. Why then do we still fall for all that hype?

We can’t even become the best in Asia and yet we expect to qualify for the Olympics? If we get there, do we even expect to win ONE game? Team USA blew the Chinese team into oblivion in a tune-up game and we can’t even beat the Chinese team. Why did we even attempt to play in Rio? Did we really want to be blown into farther oblivion?

Where is our pride? Where is our self-respect?

Enough already. We have to tone down this love affair with basketball. We need to develop other sports. We’re good in basketball — but only if we play against each other.

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Yao Ming towers over our very own Manny Pacquiao (courtesy of reddit.com)

Now this is the paradox: The PBA is the best organization to start this movement away from basketball. Really. Two reasons:

First, our sports development today is best pushed by corporate funding. Sports is waaaay down in the priorities of the government. This country has more pressing problems to address, so we need companies to spend their advertising Pesos on sports.

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Try hard as we do, the height difference is just overwhelming. (courtesy of youtube.com)

Second, if we really want to develop a sport, it has to have a professional league. Without a professional league, very few kids will practice, train and strive to be the best and think of making any sport a career.

To our kids, the PBA represents this goal. Lots of kids grow up idolizing players, then pick up the game and try to make it to the professional league.

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Basketball continues to be the most popular sport in the land. (courtesy of sports.inquirer.net)

But what if the PBA reinvented itself, and expanded to include other sports?

We can have professional leagues in women’s volleyball and football and of course, basketball. All of these leagues can be organized by the PBA franchisees.

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Woman’s volleyball is filling up the rafters with hordes of noisy fans. (courtesy of cnnphilippines.com)

We will have a basketball season, a women’s volleyball season and a football season. Perhaps the basketball and volleyball seasons can be played during the rainy days and the football season will be in summer.

Football’s poster boys have good looks that have brought in more fans. (courtesy of tumblr.com)

We will have Ginebra, Meralco, Global Port, etc. teams in all the leagues and the seasons can overlap to maximize the exposure for the team owners.

Because the truth is, everything is about exposure. The PBA and the other professional leagues are driven by the by the franchisees’ desire to advertise their products in the newspapers, on TV and in social media. And the more exposure, the better.

But attendance and interest in the PBA has waned. There are now more empty seats than there are spectators watching the games. Only those that bet on “endings” in the office pool eagerly await the results of the games. The league is at the tail end of its product cycle.

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Ho-hummm… A waning attendance in the PBA? (courtesy of rivals.ph)

It also does not help that with three seasons in a year there is “competition overload” in the PBA. Three champions in a year muddles the picture and comes out proving nothing in the end.

Quick, which team won the Reinforced Conference in 2013? Only the certified addicts will have an answer to that while the 2013 NBA champion would be easier to remember. Having only one season a year would make winning more meaningful — and more memorable.

But the termite that is really eating into the credibility of the PBA is the level of play. With our present connectivity, watching the best basketball players in the world is now at the finger tips of Filipino fans. Once exposed to that, our local players certainly pale in comparison.

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New faces, new teams. Will this augur well for the PBA? (courtesy of inquirer.net)

With each defeat in international competition, the Filipino audience tunes out mainly because they have come to realize our Filipino players are really outclassed on the world stage. We Filipinos love to identify with winners. These hallucinations of being the best in Asia have slowly crumbled before our eyes.

So it really doesn’t need a genius to figure out where the PBA is going. No matter how much Filipinos love the game of basketball, they will find it difficult to root for a team that just doesn’t stand a chance against the world’s best.

It IS time for the PBA to reinvent itself. The franchise owners would be doing themselves, the nation and all Filipino sports fans a tremendous benefit and a great favor if they did that.

(Pictures courtesy of whereblog.com, smartgilasphilippines, sportsinquirer.net, si.com, lockerdome.com, southern leyte times, rappler.com, holidaysia.com, deergear.com, america.pink, allabouttabletennis.com, philstar.com and bleacherreport.com)

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