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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A letter to the parents of athletes

Dear Parents:

Congratulations to the both of you for the gift that is your child. May he or she grow up to be an upstanding citizen of the world.

If you feel that your child will round into a terrific athlete, before you even think that he or she is your lottery ticket out of nowheresville, then you might want to consider a few things.

The best inheritance a parent can leave their child is an education. If your son is a good basketball player make sure that he goes to school and gets a diploma. The average number of playing years of a PBA player is five. That’s not much. The turn around of players is fast and quick. Unless you can score a ton of points like James Yap that means you are not guaranteed a slot in a pro team. Unless you’re a defensive specialist with a tireless work ethic, know that if you do not have a jumpshot, you don’t have a place in the PBA.

Ditto with football. The pay scale of the homegrown player vis-à-vis the foreign-born Pinoy is like heaven and earth. By no means is a job playing football a stable one just yet. Not every club can pay. Not every club is even financially profitable. Read the book Soccernomics if you get the chance. The same principle applies here.

It’s difficult to resist when you are dangled a house and lot, a gas station, a car, the management of a parking lot in some huge mall, a Mang Inasal franchise, a job for you in some department store or mall, a signing bonus, a laptop, a monthly allowance that is much bigger than even what the valedictorian of a top school will receive for a first salary. So we understand your plight. Who wouldn’t take it since it isn’t illegal anyway? But you have to know that there is a return of investment here.

When your child is being recruited, know everything about the person speaking with you. Ask about everything including hidden or miscellaneous fees. I know of current student-athletes who after not winning any medal are asked to pay for all these miscellaneous funds that they were never aware of from the beginning. And if they cannot pay them, they cannot get their transcript of records.

Ask too what happens if your child does not perform to expectations? Will he or she be dropped along with the scholarship? There are a number of schools that practice this.

Know too where your child will stay – are they being housed in the school dorm? Or outside. How conducive is staying in that dorm? I know of one current team where an athlete wants to leave because of the nightly drinking binges and other vices that are the norm. No wonder they did not win this year. A few years ago, one of the alumni of this team went home to his hometown in the Visayas. He came home to the shock of his parents that he had become a smoker and a drunkard. Even worse, he didn’t finish school. Wasted all those years in Manila. So much for the promise and potential.

What happens if your child – knock on wood here – gets injured during training or competition? Who pays for this? What happens if your child suffers a career ending injury? What next? Can he or she continue their education? Ask all of these and make sure this is stipulated in the contract that they trumpet (when there are no letters of intent recognized locally).

Check the track record of the school, the program, the coach, and most especially, its alumni. Speak with them as much as possible. Learn from their advice. If you don’t know how to go about it, ask help from the sportswriters. They will put you in touch.

Tape all the proceedings when being recruited. Ask for copies of the contract. This is to avoid all the false promises and accusations of he said, she said. Keep records of all your meetings from the dates, locations, and the times.

If your son or daughter is being considered for a school, now that there are these stupid residency rules, ask for an escape clause in the event your child will not be a part of the seniors program. There is no one in this world who wants to sign long term contracts. Things change. Even our military men have to sign up again for a new tour of duty every few years.

Should there be a contract, make sure all the stipulations are on it. Make the school officials sign it, date it, and notarize it. Take pictures and video of it and of the school officials signing them. Of course, do not do this overtly.

Think about it when this athletic director offers to fix your child’s papers because he or she never finished high school or he or she is overage. What values are you imparting on your children – that cheating will get you ahead in the game?

Furthermore, know that collegiate athletes are the new professional athlete. Collegiate athletes are certainly more bankable than pro athletes. Of the sheer number of athletes performing today, how many have endorsements? Not a lot, right? And that begs the question of people asking to manage your child. Learn the business instead of asking someone else to bargain on your behalf.

Anyways, I just wanted to put things in perspective. Complicated, right? Who knew that choosing a school could be so complicated? But then again, it’s all about your child’s future.

Good luck and Godspeed.



  1. education must still be the priority after all. a great reminder for all parents out there who are dreaming "big" for their kids. Thanks for this timely post.

  2. That's why jerie pingoy still chose ateneo over feu... despite the 2yr residency to be implemented... he still chose the better education that he could have...

  3. You know, instead of implementing 2 year residency rules so that students are not lured by benefits and allowances by rival schools (a concern the AdU representative raised IIRC), why not just regulate benefits, allowances, or remove them altogether (i.e. scholarship lang ang benefit ng student-athlete)?

  4. This article should be translated in all dialects and published in all newspapers all over the country....