Monday, December 20, 2010

On Bandwagoners, Bernard Hopkins and Ballers who can or can't sing

The trending on Twitter fades. The vigil over televised football matches is over. The end of Facebook chitter-chatter over the celebrated Azkals begins in three, two, one. What happens now to the battalion of new-found football fans? What awaits the congregation of football's newest converts?

How about the hundreds of offers, even threats, to marry Neil Etheridge on the spot? Will Annie Alcantara, who like many female fans professed her devotion on social networks the way a Laker fan wears his Kobe jersey, sustain her Etheridgian infatuations even after her beloved goal-keeper heads back to Asgard, long after the Azkals retreat to a much-needed break?

What happens now to the hype? What kind of fate will the Azkals' jolly bangwagon meet?

Yes, interest in football is surely at an all-time high. Certainly more people used the term football, as opposed to soccer, the past two weeks - this is always a good sign. But what will it accomplish in the long run? A lot, I think. I am obviously an optimist. But then, anyone who believed in the Azkals' ability to win in Jakarta has to be one.

What I have is long-term optimism. To demand that football rockets up the charts, displacing age-old habits, by sunrise tomorrow is over-expecting. To regard the Suzuki Cup phenomenon as some sort of fluke, some distant memory by the time this blog goes online, is under-believing.

What does the rise of the Azkal bandwagon prove? Filipino sports fans, even non-sports fans, can be awakened. Their senses can be stirred by dramatic images of effort and excellence on television. I won't liken it to the badminton trend or the current running craze. I have no issue with the Azkal bandwagon partly because I'm not ashamed to admit I am a bandwagoner myself and partly because the crowd of nouveau-futbolistas cheered for something other than the upgrading of their twitter-cred or the improvement of their office social status.

The new Azkal-loving set was cheering for a national team, a Philippine team, our team. I see no wrong in that.

So even if the Etheridge fans club breaks apart, even if the same people who passionately typed expletives seconds after Indonesia broke our hearts will no longer care about offside rules and corner kicks, even if the Azkals take a backseat to Pacquiao and Ginebra anew, I will neither sulk in defeat nor blame the converts. When the time comes, when the compelling opportunity arrives, when football needs support the most, the bandwagon, armed with marriage proposals and welcome enthusiasm, will be back.

Bernard Hopkins vs Jean Pascal -- Age vs Agility

Hopkins is practically 46. Pascal is 28. What are they doing in the ring together??? This fight, however, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Pascal was confident in the power of his age. Hopkins, on the other hand, knew he could count on his experience. After Hopkins waivered early, I wondered if the fight would meet an unceremonious end.

I had little to worry about. Eventually, Pascal's early arrogance turned into visible apprehension. He saw the VHS tapes of The Executioner and it left a cautious imprint on his mind. Hopkins still had a lethal reputation, even at age 46. Hence, from initial embarrassment, Hopkins found the route to new-found energy. He closed in. Pascal stepped away. Didn't matter if Bernard's shots weren't as crushing as they were before. What mattered to Pascal was that Bernard could crush people.

51-32-5-2-1. Hopkins's record surpasses win-loss tallies by many ill-fated NBA coaches.

By the end of the fight, by the time a once-pro-Pascal crowd turned into a pro-Hopkins bash, we saw an obvious winner. The judges thought otherwise and handed out a majority draw. Pascal kept his belt. Hopkins gained our love. In the battle between generations, VHS clearly won over DVD.

PBA Jingle-Bell Rock

I still wonder why many basketball players, often the biggest human beings in our midst, could have the smallest voices. Hindi naman pippity-squeakity voices. But it's just surprising to hear them murmur when they talk. It's even more surprising to hear them creak when they sing.

I remember PBA legend Yoyoy Villamin had the tiniest voice but no one dared to enter the shaded lane under his watch.

But the guys on this Christmas plug deserve our commendation. While I'm not sure what grades they get for singing, they surely get an A+ for effort. MH

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