[ Note : please know that we are unceremoniously appropriating the use of fandom as it currently applies to cult TV science fiction / fantasy shows, movies, Japanese anime and similar diversions and borrowing it for sports-related fanaticism. ]
I WAS in the mall waiting for Mahal to finish work when Super Sunday became Bloody Sunday for Noel’s Littlest Bleacher Section of Sports Fandom. I left home at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter of Game Seven, NBA Eastern Conference Finals between my Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat Dynasty-In-Waiting. Kept to myself self-defeating predictions that I dared not vocalize, but tucked away in the furthest corner of my head : (1) the faintest sliver of light offered by the window of Game 6 had shut tight, and (2) only PERFECT, perfect games by the Big Four of KG, the Truth, Ray-ray and Kid Rondo would carry them past the cruelly tireless Men in Black and Red.
Since I ominousIy had a few minutes to kill as Mahal was cleaning up her sushi pad, I used such to scoot up the glittering appliance store near the mall rooftop, and I knew exactly which laptops showcased were internet ready. I didn’t want any details, pictures or postmortems, which would’ve taken an eternity to skim through. Just the final score would do, to end my suffering of stress and suspense.
When I saw on the nba.com main menu the Finals sked between early finalists Oklahoma Thunder and the Heat, I didn’t even need to look further. And that was when the sky started to darken a little.
And it darkened further when my flatmate said Pacman Manny Pacquiao lost via split decision to challenger Timothy Bradley, in the closest of scores. The problem was through the entire fight, Pambansang Kamao walked all over him, and although I know this only from hearsay, after Barrera, Marquez, Morales, Diaz, Cotto, Clottey, Margarito Mosley, Hatton, dela Hoya etc. it was certainly believable for the champion to just mail in his performance and still emerge victorious.
I was in a dark mood the rest of the day, and it was only out of courtesy for Mahal who put in a hard day’s work that I didn’t do a sulk in front of the dinner table, in front of the TV and under the bed covers. Being a fortysomething family man who’d long outgrown his sports idols, I had no earthly reason to do so. But I wanted, wanted to gnash my teeth and pull my hair.
I was still shellshocked by the basketball result so I don’t even have the barest boxing facts, just that in at least 9 out of 12 rounds, the Congressman from Sarangani walked all over his American opponent in a hardfought fight nevertheless; a struggle but 99.9% of those watching left with no doubt regarding who was the winner (the 0.1% being three scorecard-bearing individuals who probably misplaced their glasses on the way to the fight).
Back to the Celtics loss, I’m not doing a one-eighty degree turn and switch allegiances to surviving teams, Boston fans tend to stay loyal through thick and thin. LBJ is a force of nature, and D-Wade is a proven winner, but beyond that I don’t want to make any crazy predictions. One thing for sure though, I’m not going to be an instant Oklahoma City Thunder just to see the Miami Heat lose. May the best team win ! 🙂
This sounds just like so much sourgraping, and it probably is. But more than that, what I want to know is why I was/am in such a black mood, I’ve never been this affected by a best-of-seven albeit while being an NBA fan in general all these years. Was it because the Celtics’ performance through three rounds (until their last game) raised expectations previously unheard of, given the fact that the team core was three quarters players on their last legs? Was it because Wapak Man has embodied Pinoy Pride, hopes and dreams for so long that he has become one with our national (and international) aspirations?
Regardless of your answer or mine, how does a game played halfway around a world, producing a result that has absolutely no bearing on my life, or that of anyone else I know, affect my mood in such a manner? And I grant that Manny P is one of our most distinguished compatriots, who has brought honor to the lahing kayumanggi (brown race) for this and future generations, but how could his success in the ring have any effect on me?
The only theory I can come up with right now is that because the vast vast majority of us will never receive fame and adulation that professional athletes (and entertainers) receive, we somehow live our lives vicariously through the saga of their careers, rejoicing in their victories and grieving in their defeats.
This is why huge swaths of civilized societies reach the pinnacle of happiness whenever national teams produce major wins (Olympics, World Cups, and prestigious tournaments) and go on a rampage of riots, protests and mournings of national magnitude when losses occur. The age of conquests, reigns of terror and pillaging of enemy territory has been succeeded by the age of athletic battles, for many countries in the world.
Or has it? Mothers and children are massacred in Syria, thousands are executed for minor crimes in China, and living skeletons are ignored in West Africa. There is so much more to be concerned about in the world than the result of a ball game, and the day we stop agonizing over the final score of a meaningless competition is the day we finally adjust our moral decoder towards what’s truly important. And that’s not just because the Celtics and Manny lost yesterday.
Thanks for reading!
PS. An extra serving of suspense was ordered at the French Open Men’s Final yesterday, as the balance of the best-of-five set encounter between N. Djokovic and R. Nadal was rescheduled due to rain with Nadal leading 2-1. But we don’t care anymore right? 😉