Friday, November 20, 2015

Remember This Story

It was, certainly, a head kick heard around the world.  Holly Holm knocked out erstwhile unbeaten Ronda Rousey to win the UFC World Women's Bantamweight Championship.  As referee Herb Dean stopped the fight, the world reacted with shock, disbelief, inspiration and "I told you so's," but here's the thing.

It's not a story of the perils of living a rockstar life.  Yes, Rousey had movie and commercial shoots, TV guestings and events, but she's always been a strong woman who could multi-task. there was never an occasion where she didn't train enough.  People love to bring out this story to any fighting champion with crossover personality, but there was never an occasion where she didn't train enough.  Rousey is a training junkie. She made weight and didn't look dehydrated.

It's not a story of hubris or good vs evil either.  Yes, Rousey had the scowl, the fighting words, the weigh in snafu and the refusal to touch gloves while Holm was gracious and mostly silent. But to infer that one protagonist is good while the other is bad makes no real observation other than the commenter is a casual fight fan.  Fights are fought outside the ring as much as in it and fighters build and cultivate the personas that help them win.  Holm projects the "I'm silent but I am a killer" vibe; Rousey projects the "I will get on you and destroy you" vibe.  Neither lady is as simple as just the persona they project.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?

Watching Gilas battle China for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship was difficult, almost painful even.  From the pre game and in game shenanigans, partial officiating, to the unruly crowd, to the shots that went in and out, it was a nightmare.  It was the worst case scenario.  It was watching a time bomb count down and any wire you cut results in explosion anyway.  It was like watching your friend or your relative go after something or someone they want when it was clear to you and to them the odds would never be in their favor.  It was like that scene in the Matrix, when the character Switch realized she was going to die because they were betrayed.  “Not like this,” she lamented.

As Gabe Norwood crumpled to the floor from a finger to the eye and the referee just watching the ball go out of bounds, there was really only one question.  

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Grab and Believe

It was supposed to be simple. A historic win in the World Cup in 2014 meant the most logical conclusion would be that the same Gilas team would represent us in this year's FIBA-Asia Championships, but as is our country's wont, things got extremely complicated. Players started getting injured, backing out of the Gilas line up. Questions began building up. Why did so and so back out? Is he really injured? What in heaven's name is Plantar Fasciatis? Why is so and so included in the line up? Can he make a contribution in the international game?

At the end of the day (or the month of July) Coach Tab Baldwin of Gilas 3.0 was left with a 17 man pool with only 6 holdovers from Gilas 2.0, one of which just came out of retirement. The others were split into 4 groups. First, those who many questioned if they were too old to be useful. Second was the group many questioned if they were too volatile and unpredictable to be counted on. Third was a group some questioned if their recent suberb play was only because they played for weaker teams. Last was the group many questioned if they were too raw to make a difference. Many feared these unexpected, seemingly unreliable players spelled trouble and some started to turn angry at those who said "No" to the call of the nation. 

But life's best stories are always filled with seemingly "unfit" people being thrust into the spotlight. Take the world's best-selling book, the Bible. Moses, Noah, Gideon, David, Matthew, Zachaeus, all names that, when they were entrusted an enormous honor or task, people scoffed or got nervous about. Then, they took their opportunity, believed and made the most of them. That's how they became noteworthy. That's how they became heroes. 

People feared Asi Taulava, Don Don Hontiveros and Sonny Thoss to be too old. Given the opportunity in the Jones Cup, they came up big, each leading us with big baskets to power us to wins. Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario were feared to be raw but they showed veteran composure and toughness and made laudable contributions. People bristled at JC Intal and Aldrech Ramos being given slots, but their outside shooting was invaluable to our halfcourt spacing and their length added versatility to our defense. The unpredictability people feared with Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva turned out to be the positive energy and bravado the team needed to regain that swagger we thought we had lost in Estonia. 

It's simple, really. Many feared and questioned each and every one of these guys' inclusion into the line up, but each and every one of them grabbed their opportunity, believed, and showed us their Puso. That's how they have become noteworthy. That is how they have become our heroes. 

Now, as the FIBA Asia Championship nears, we also get an opportunity. We get an opportunity to stop concentrating our energies on hating/shaming those who said "No" to the call of Gilas 3.0. Instead, we get an opportunity to cheer and support those who have stepped forward, despite the questions and doubts surrounding them. Are we going to grab this opportunity? Are we going to believe? Are we going to be noteworthy? 

I'm in. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Head and the Heart

     A prominent "0" stands under the Win column of the Philippines' standings in the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball.  As the group stages come to a close, however, it's prominence is overshadowed by something else.  The Philippine Men's Basketball Team, Gilas Pilipinas, has captured the world's attention.

     Oftentimes, we are warned that letting our hearts decide over our heads is a prescription for disaster.  Being too emotional leads to poor decision-making; it clouds judgement.  The head is stable; it protects you from being hurt by telling you to avoid any possible pain.  To live with your heart on your sleeve is to open yourself to tremendous hurt.  Yes, following your heart to pursue your passions, your childhood dream, your one great love, is a recipe for incomparable heartache.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Drive

      Today, I woke up late.  I woke with a start because I was going to be late for lunch shift at Quirky Bacon but as I started to get up, I checked my phone and I was shell shocked by the news.

      In the world of sports, the athletes most people remember are those who win titles, but the athletes most athletes remember are those who battle with a fire so contagious it affects everyone's game. Former National Bowling Team player and International Bowling Champion Ernesto "Joonee" Gatchalian was both.