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, October 29, 2007

The Things We Don’t Say

(This appears in my column in the sports section of today's Business Mirror. It doesn't quite appear the same on paper and in the web version as they didn't print the strikethroughs.)

Over the weekend, candidates for future thieving bastards the barangay elections made their last pitch. One of them, wearing a golf shirt that didn’t do much to hide his potbelly, went up to my apartment and introduced himself. When he learned that I was a sportswriter, he immediately pumped my hand and asked for future free mileage as he planned – if he won through vote buying and cheating in the elections -- to steal the people’s money organize summer tournaments for the youth.

I thought back to when I was working for Solar Sports when I met up with a incredibly wealthy politician who championed the cause of one sport because he believed it was an arena that could catapult the Filipino into world-class status while increasing his profile for the next elections. He said his ill-gotten wealth money wasn’t a problem in supporting the athletes since it wasn’t his to begin with and he would spare no expense to help them get the best possible training and equipment. I was immediately put off by how he managed to acquire so much money and his callousness in flaunting it impressed by his generosity and patriotism that I pledged to pillory him no end support him in any way I could.

There’s nothing quite like covering sports and lambasting its villains. To paraphrase ABC Sports -- it’s great to span the globe to cover the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat caused by damn referees and cheaters. Besides you get inside the venue for free with a front row seat and hear all the back room talk about what really goes on inside to all the in-your-face action.

One of the fun aspects of covering sports is that you get to meet a lot of these athletes some who are swell-headed braggarts who believe that their fame gives them free pass to everything who are such great persons and should be proper role models for the young. Some like our Mt. Everest climbers were instantly hailed as crazy attention-seekers by pessimists trailblazers. When they were looking for corporate sponsorship they were largely ignored yet once they reached the summit, everyone and their brother wanted a photo op with them welcomed with open arms and their feat turned them into instant national heroes.

Of course, sports isn’t without problems. Tennis is in the midst of a major gambling investigation yet it was certainly heartwarming to hear the sport’s governing bodies – the ATP, WTA, ITF, and the Grand Slam Committee quoted a British bookmaker who said that match-fixing will never be stopped proclaim that they’ve got the problem well in hand.

But I’m confident that sports will not overcome its problems because there’s too much money, power, and prestige at stake. In the case of the NBA, Commissioner David Stern said that referee Tom Donaghy’s arrest for gambling and match-fixing was the tip of the iceberg with reports indicating that more than half of the league’s 56 violating gambling policies an isolated one. Nothing that the world’s greatest basketball league and bettors can’t game fix once the new season’s action gets underway.

Speaking of basketball. Right before the new PBA conference tipped off, one team was trying to trade for a long-time veteran of another club who has been riding the bench of late. But before the trade could be consummated, the other team backed out citing that they’d rather keep the player because they were afraid that the player would come back to haunt them so they’d rather bury him at the end of the bench felt that he could still help their club. It is a business after all and we can be ruthless if we want was a no-brainer, one team official said. The player is said to be extremely pissed ecstatic about remaining with his team and his goddamn coach.

One of the most eagerly awaited sporting events are those international in scope where due to negligence and selfishness many of our ill-equipped athletes fail to make a good account of themselves. Those who win medals are promised lavish amounts of money that they almost never see justly rewarded for their feats while the losers others are ignored and left to get their own ride commended for their efforts once they arrive at our dark, gloomy, and antiquated beautiful and world-class international airport.

Some like Manny Pacquiao have become national treasures whose daily life is reported regularly by some stalking media types big news for people who think that gossip makes for great news reporting would like to know more about the Philippines’ one true global icon.

The sports page because of the variety of its scope of games and matches and scandals as well is for many people the first section they read when they pick up the newspaper.

And that is why I write about sports because of the notoriety of having a column and seeing my mug in a national broadsheet and that there may be a possibility that my newspaper will one day send to Europe to cover probably the best football club in the world Liverpool FC these are the games that define us and the great times we live in.

Cheers!

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