Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, June 5, 2006

The Fever Is Upon Us

It’s in the air. You can feel it. And watch it.
The spectacle that is the 2006 FIFA World Cup is on Solar Sports’ sister channel Sports Plus. “Solar is committed to bring the best sporting events in the world to Philippine television,” beamed a proud Peter Chanliong, the cable giant’s aggressive COO. “It’s a first step for us and a step towards helping the sport grow in the country.” Next on the pitch for Solar are the Italian Serie A and the Spanish Primera Liga.

It’s also on people’s lips.
John, an English expatriate, was in an extraordinary cheerful mood, as he got ready for work last Friday. It wasn’t solely because it was the last day of the working week but the World Cup games were a mere seven days away. While getting ready he sang himself a song (to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”): “If it weren’t for all of us, you’d all be Krauts. If it weren’t for all of us, you’d all be Krauts. If it weren’t for all of us, if it weren’t for all of us, if it weren’t for all of us you’d all be Krauts.” He let out a hearty laugh and added, “Dinna worry, mate. Don read anything innit. Its just football. Thas just football.”

It’s even on the trees and on the light posts.
In the sprawling Ateneo De Manila University campus along Loyola Heights, Q.C., streamers announcing the live showing of the World Cup games at the Blue Eagle Gym adorn almost every tree and light post drowning out the traditional “welcome back” signs at the start of every school year. Ateneo Football Center Director Jong Castañeda felt that showing the games in a large venue using wide screen projectors was a no-brainer. “Football is something best watched with a large group of people,” said the visible excited ex-Blue Booter. “Hindi ba mas exciting yun? In fact, we’re open to all nearby residents and students of UP, PSBA, Miriam and others.”

It’s on the stands.
The June issue of Summit Media’s popular Men’s Health magazine features a 12-page World Cup special that Associate Publisher Alvin Jimenez describes as a “visual treat for the fan.” It’s got Zidane (in his World Cup swan song), Kaka, Messi, and other players touted to make an impact this time around. On weekdays, the metropolis’ new and smartly written broadsheet, Business Mirror, has been ahead of the pack with its comprehensive Road to Germany stories.

In fact, it’s fashionable.
Sporting goods stores have reported brisk sales of football jerseys whether they’re authentic or knock-offs or whether they carry club or national colors. A source from a major footwear company likes the outlook for football in this country where the sport is wrongly perceived to be unpopular. “Basketball still enjoys more volume sales but the market hasn’t grown. Parang nag-plateau na,” he noted. “Unlike in football where sales have been consistently aggressive and better year in and out. Of course, this being a World Cup year, sales have been much better. We’ve sold out our stocks up to December yet retailers have been clamoring for much much more.”

It’s everywhere.
Bong Sillona of Solar Sports’ Cable Sales Division has reported that at least 42 major hotels and popular bars and restaurants in the metro area have subscribed to the All-Access Pass for all 64 games of the tourney. “And that doesn’t even include residential pay-per-view numbers,” he underscored.

It’s infected all of us.
“Dude, with the games back in Germany, that means the live games will be shown late at night until the early hours of the day,” lamented on excited fan. “But,” he added with a grin, “that’s exactly why I have been saving up on my vacation and sick leaves.”

Why not? The World Cup fever is upon us.

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