Basketball is  life  still 

By Prof. Tomasito Talledo

On 10th September, I watched a game between college varsity teams: ’twas dear old USA vs. Iloilo Doctors’ College.

I’m reminded of the rambunctious ISAA games of my High School years. Disclosure: pro-football was our culture  since students were animated by Spanish Agustinian friars who played and coached. But the legendary Coach Bing Ledesma was the authority figure of the University’s Sports Program then, so we’re herded to the School Gym to cheer whenever USA basketball team was in contention.

September 10 was sort of a deja-vu but in a more modest court venue. Some close sporty friends were “forcefully persuasive” that I should watch USA basketball varsity since they knew I’m a bit fanatic for UP Maroons. They hypothesized that my “fanaticism” will probably seep down to support our shared High School loyalties or our old-school ties.

I observed just like in the UAAP the jerseys of schools now carry sponsors’ logo as walking advertisements hence the school’s mast-head appear less prominent; but so wanting in aesthetics are their jersey designs, and definitely they appear to  have no sponsors for their new basketball footwears.

In the UAAP, Adidas vs. Nike compete for sponsorship, and a Chinese brand that I can’t recall now. I watched vids where UP players were gifted by H&M with swipe-cards to purchase no less than 3 pairs of shoes, apart from free clothes galore of their choice. Players are contracted as photo models of these commercial products (cf. not Carl Tamayo but a number of player-endorsers got the numbers of Twitter followers as potential buyers). Doubtlessly the long tentacles of Capitalism has penetrated college sports. Within the Republic of Diliman, Maroons’ basketball program and the No Where To Go But UP Foundation seem to occupy a “separate Universe” of privilege.

Back to the game on Saturday: the bodies of the players are not that bulky and only a few tower above 6-feet or above in height. I wonder if they have serious body workout program for players. The players’ energies are however wasted in running fast and forceful dribbling. Yes, players of both teams dribble intensely, almost insanely but to me uselessly. Their zone defense was porous and loose. And I hardly notice surprising frictionless passing of the ball to score. Such delightful act to watch was absent.

The skills of players might be that uneven since the rotation and substitution are confined to a number. Well, if my hunch is accurate, this bodes ill for the entire team and for the school’s sports program. I hope I’m wrong or I’m just over-interpreting what I observed. I long for perfection. Ah, during my High School days, when the season of basketball tournaments in Iloilo City starts, the attendance of multitude fans resembled a uproarious Feast. ‘Twas the Season of Joy!

Alas, those were the days….

Apart from being a sports fan, Prof. Talledo teaches history, political science, and political thought at UP Visayas.

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