Traffic was the telling sign. Urban existence here, after all, hinges on the factors of traffic, weather, and the combination between them that will either add or subtract to the horrors of your commuting experience. That the mean streets of Manila on a rainy Wednesday night were clear was for the most part the aberration. What was going on?
Ask anyone and surely your ears will be met with the same stories. The streets were clear as Filipinos old and young, men and women were glued to their TV sets: hoping, chanting, shouting in support, for Gilas Pilipinas. Ask anyone again and you’ll know how we’ve all been treated to heartbreak. In a tweet, Rick Olivares said, “Being a Filipino sports fan, you need to have a great capacity and tolerance for pain.” He was referencing the recent loss of the Philippine Azkals to Myanmar in the Peace Cup. We’ve all heard of the recent strides in the games that we love. But we keep losing. This is not new.
Being a Philippine sports fan, you need to have a great capacity and tolerance for pain.
— Rick Olivares (@rickyolivares) September 6, 2014
I’ve come to ask myself the meaning of sports in many instances. As an athlete, winning was always emphasized. But now, as a fan, why is the success of others so important? In conversations with other people, I’m sure die-hard fans have been asked what it is about being a fan that makes them cheer on. Beyond points won, baskets or goals made and missed, at the heart of things are the stories.
That the universe is made up of stories, not atoms is not a new thought. We’re bombarded with so many stories in fact. TV news and the newspapers are fraught with politics, death, and tragedies. Twitter and Instagram filled with inane updates of #selfies and #ootd’s—and Facebook housing all the combinations of both things. There are big stories and small stories, and I come to think again of the meaning of sports in this instance.
Sports is only marginally important enough as to warrant a section in the newspaper or a five-minute segment on the evening news. In the scale of things, that’s not such a big achievement. Just another passing post in an increasingly longer timeline. But in sport’s rare moments though, it is also capable of clearing roads during rush hour on a rainy Wednesday night. I heard once that crime rates drop in the metro everytime Manny Pacquiao has a scheduled fight. I should really confirm whether this was the case when Gilas Pilipinas played against Puerto Rico.
In any case, as we inch our way to another Final Four segment of the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, I look back on other stories. The Sunken Garden bonfire is still etched on my mind, but earlier this week the UP Women’s Badminton Team finally captured the championship after a 13 year wait.
These are among the stories we’ve been treated to this season. I’m certain we’ll look to these stories as we will to the next ones because we cheer, not hopelessly, but in hope. We won’t always lose like we won’t always win. I like to think we cheer on the athletes regardless of their standings because we cheer on ourselves too.