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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

On Tab Baldwin, coaching, and employment.

On Tab Baldwin, coaching, and employment.
by rick olivares

With the news of Tab Baldwin’s appointment as Ateneo head coach, it was inevitable that the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines (BCAP) would rear its head and cite the law that protects jobs for Filipinos.

The coaches' body is well within their right to challenge the appointment and we must applaud them for their efforts to improve coaching and protect their ranks. Now moving forward, I would like to challenge that particular rule’s validity in today’s world. I think it is time to revisit many rules that I believe to be antiquated just to see how they make sense in today’s world. And this coaching concern is one of them.

It is not because it involves Ateneo. Far from it. I never did see anything wrong with the attempts to install Joe Ward, Todd Purves, Rajko Toroman, and Bill Bayno in different coaching capacities and different organizations. After all, they do not come in bunches. Furthermore, it is rather expensive to bring over foreign coaches.

But first, the coaching position is one of the most volatile and unsteady jobs in the world. You’re only as good as your last win. To be blunt about it, Norman Black said as a coach, "you get hired to get fired."

Now let’s take a look at the three major leagues in the country — the PBA, UAAP, and NCAA.

For example, since 2010, not counting the KIA/Mahindra and BlackWater, the two expansion clubs,
Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer have had six head coaches;
the Alaska Aces, Barako Bull, and the Star Hotshots, since that same time frame have had four;
Talk ’N Text has had three;
and Rain Or Shine and Meralco have had two.

GlobalPort which joined the PBA in 2012 has had six head coaching changes in three years! Unbelievable. 

Over at the UAAP, it is the same pattern of the revolving door of coaches: 
the UP Fighting Maroons have had six;
the La Salle Green Archers, UE Red Warriors and the Adamson Falcons have had four;
and the FEU Tamaraws have had three.

Over at the NCAA, it is no different.
San Beda and San Sebastian have had four.
Letran, Perpetual Help, Arellano, and EAC have had three.

So is there security of tenure? None. 

Is anyone’s job being threatened? I think it’s more of the sanity of the schools and the team managers.

Baldwin’s tenure is pegged for one year. One year and how does that threaten the livelihood of local coaches? 

You say there are other coaches who are capable of taking over the Blue Eagles? Find me someone now. You have to take the good and the bad with no ifs and buts.

Companies say like PLDT or even SMC definitely vet their applicants. I am pretty sure they surveyed the field before settling on a choice. Now if that choice doesn’t pan out, then they are shown the door.

If we are bent on caring for the Pinoy worker we should challenge that contractual rule that does not give benefits to people who work in places like those big malls or monopolistic corporations. That is even more anti-Filipino and anti-worker than a head coaching position that is here today and gone tomorrow.

The world is a smaller place because of migration, trade and economy, and the internet. Through the past few decades, we have seen Filipinos move abroad and conduct themselves well. If the US and Europe allowed open migration we might see the Philippines empty itself. We should be glad that people want to come over and live here much less work here. The exchange in ideas and cultures can only be beneficial to all people regardless of borders. That is how the world works these days.

If in Germany, home of the four-time FIFA World Cup champions, have a Spaniard coaching their best football team, Bayern Munich, why can’t we be more open minded?

The top-football club in England, Manchester United, is coached by a Dutchman. 

Of course, we aren’t suggesting that we open employment to every foreigner. There should be procedures and mechanisms in place. 

I believe that we can harvest the best of what the world has to offer by opening our doors and not closing them and being a little more open-minded. 

Thanks to lawyer friends Jay Lopez, Vincent Edward Festin, and Terence Fernando for their insights.


  1. Dont forget that there are also fans of other schools who are hoping someone files a case to prevent Coach Tai from coaching the Lady Eagles

  2. I totally agree with you Sir Rick. Mas gugustuhin kong maging assistant ng isang Tab Baldwin kesa maging Head Coach. I mean can you imagine the knowledge you would get from him. That's why I envy the position of Coach Richard Del Rosario.

    I like how you point out commentaries. The little details of the game are not being emphasized. Sure, stats help but strategies of coaches, in-game adjustments, small things that have big impact to the game are rarely mentioned. This is very evident in all our major leagues. I like Coach Jason Webb and Coach Richard Del Rosario how they analyze the game, you get to learn and know the complexity of being a coach.

    If you don't mind, I would like to ask who or what party has the responsibility on hiring TV/Game Analyst in PBA, UAAP and NCAA? For the PBA, is it the PBA itself or TV5? For UAAP/NCAA, is it ABS-CBN? I would like to know because I am planning to apply as Game Analyst in one of our major basketball leagues. Thanks in advance Sir Rick!

  3. I understand the sentiment that we should protect our own, thus I see where BCAP is coming from. However just to educate my ignorance, is there actually a "law" that prevents foreign nationals to coach basketball in the Philippines, as well as empowering the BCAP to implement and enforce nationalist basketball policies? If so, what exact Republic Act or even Executive Order that stipulates such. If none, then there really isn't anything for BCAP to go on except to seek civil action against Ateneo. Other questions: are all basketball coaches required to join BCAP? What is the role of BCAP anyway and to what extent is their influence in all basketball leagues?