[We’ve been through a particularly stressful time, and hope that if there’s at least one person out there who’s been waiting for us, you’ve been patient enough, and thanks for waiting. Woohoo! ]
IT’S ALRIGHT to talk about it now, but I was in a sorry, sorry funk the first few days. Towards the deafening anti-climax, you fought the good fight and hoped against hope, but deep down you knew the game was already lost . It was verily a living nightmare that built upon itself, collapsed upon itself and both obliterated and extinguished my brightest hopes and laughed in my face when I dared to dream my fondest dream. Now, multiply this very personal nightmare by about four million, and you begin to approximate an idea of what I’m talking about.
What the eff are you talking about kabayan Noel? I can hear you say. I’m just relating to you the humongous meltdown experienced by Team New Zealand after leading Team USA’s Oracle 8-2 (first to win nine races would’ve won) to last week lose what was painfully within reach, the America’s Cup.
In boat racing, the America’s Cup is like the NBA’s World Championship, Major League Baseball’s World Series, the four tennis majors and golf’s four majors melted into one. It was a sublime, transcendent win for the Americans in what is almost undoubtedly the greatest comeback in all of sports. But to the losers it was a tragedy that is hard to accept, much less live down.
It’s too painful to recount to you how Team NZ lost their mojo after racing through seven of the first eight races effortlessly as if they were destined to win. It’s still inexplicable how after the Kiwis looked like they could do no wrong, suddenly smashed into windy conditions and made error after error. It didn’t help that people were already talking about the huge economic impact to Auckland where the next America’s Cup would be held, as soon as Team New Zealand won.
That was the key phrase. As soon as. Meaning, Team NZ hadn’t won yet. And they haven’t, two weeks later.
I noticed that it wasn’t so much the fact that America won the America’s Cup (it is after all named after them) but the fact that New Zealand, my temporary adopted country, lost. I realized that in many many occasions where I am an active partisan and an active spectator, almost like a stakeholder in the fortunes of my favored team, what hurts more than the other winning is my team’s losing. The only thing I can’t stand more than NOT WINNING is LOSING. I know each outcome is synonymous with the other, but it makes a world of difference if you take your partisanship seriously. Particularly if the team you’re losing to is a worthy victor. Crazy, right? But more often than not, it makes sense.
When I was a high school student and a PBA fanatic more than a few years ago, I was usually in the minority whenever I rooted for my beloved Toyota Tamaraws (which became the Toyota Super Corollas). I didn’t mind my team being upset occasionally by lesser teams like U-tex Wranglers or Royal Tru-Orange but whenever there was a matchup with arch-rival Crispa Redmanizers, I was all wound up not by the thought of thrashing the hated first five of Co, Fabiosa, Hubalde, Cezar and Guidaben but by being outcoached by the master tactician, Baby Dalupan. It was not quite the ideal, but I was actually rooting for my team to not lose, instead of winning.
I found that I was not alone in my particular brand of not-losing-is-better-than-winning. It was alright for my UP Fighting Maroons not to win, we were in fact never expected to challenge for the UAAP title year after year (except that golden moment in ’86 when Benjie Paras & Co. won it all). As long as first, we didn’t end up the doormat, and two, we didn’t lost to particular teams like Ateneo (our neighbor in Diliman), UST (for some reason we hated them) and co-cellar dweller NU, who is not so weak now.
I notice that as long as we don’t lose to regional rivals Taiwan and Korea in basketball, no campaign is too miserable. But most of all, it’s the fact that if ever we lose, we don’t want to lose badly, we don’t want to be embarrassed when we lose, and again, we don’t want to lose to certain teams that make losing a double-jeopardy thing. You lose, and you lose to someone you dislike.
Did you ever notice that we Pinoys tend to excel in certain sports to the exclusion of a whole lot of others? Remember the time when Pinoys were known to be great, the world over, in sports that began only with the letter “B”? Of course it’s not true, but we certainly have a surplus of great billiards and basketball players that can compete among the world’s best, anytime and anyplace. And I don’t need to tell you how we punch above our weight, literally, in nearly all boxing divisions save for the heaviest ones. Reason? We are physically talented in those sports. Because we won’t stand a chance in many other events, we’d rather not compete.
It’s unfair, but I think that’s the reality. For a country with athleticism and physical intensity such as ours, have you ever wondered why we’ve never won a gold medal in the Olympics? It may be hare-brained for me to say so, but it’s probably because we have preconditioned ourselves into thinking we’ll never be world-class in sports where we traditionally don’t do well. So there’s no concerted effort to develop our grassroots sports in those areas. Kesa mapikon lang tayo at masaktan, huwag na lang.
One last anecdote. We Pinoys are pikon (sore losers), although we don’t openly admit it. (the Kiwis are the reverse; they are good losers but love their country too much to admit that other countries send better teams.) The only time we admit we are pikon is when first, our numbers are so strong the other side can’t be pikon and fight back; and when, while being pikon, we can still make fun of ourselves.
And for it’s for this reason that Barangay Ginebra, eternal inhabitants of the PBA arena, will always exist.
thanks for reading!
- Fundraising underway for next Team NZ campaign (stuff.co.nz)
- Dean Barker: I hope Team NZ has a future – TVNZ (tvnz.co.nz)
- why Julianne Alvarez is my favorite Kinoy* (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- 5 Coolest Pinoy Inventions You Haven’t Heard Of (filipiknow.net)
- 10 Anthem-ic Songs for The Single Pinoy (thesinglepinoy.wordpress.com)