By Tony Samson
AT THE timeouts on the second game of the men’s basketball finals of UAAP Season 82, both the courtside announcer and the jumbotron display pleaded the two sides to refrain from excessive noise — no drums, please. One side completely ignored the request as its team rallied to within a one-point separation. This injunction is intended to ensure that the frantic coaches are heard by the players. (Where are we going for dinner afterwards?)
So much has been written about the historic game and the unprecedented achievement. Let’s not get into that. Only one statistic stands out — the winning team made 11 treys (five from one player) as opposed to the losing team, which is celebrated for taking the most number of rainbow shot attempts all season, making only eight. Both teams made 31 attempts each.
So many posts and pieces have been tweeted, printed, and shared on the teams, players, statistics, first-ever achievements, and plans for the next season. This corner will not recycle the clichés and chest-thumping.
There are some uncommented numbers and incidents surrounding that momentous game that are reported here for the first time. Is it maybe because they did not directly affect the outcome of the game? Does that mean they are insignificant? Anyway, Barbara Tuchman notes on her essays on her craft: “Practicing History” (1989) that it is helpful to check the social conditions and even the weather when events (especially battles) take place as it sets the mood and the challenges when history takes place. I’m excerpting and paraphrasing her point here.
So here are the facts (or factoids) that have escaped other sports analysts’ attention. These citations are not subject to audit as they are based solely on anecdotes and a bit of fiction.
The crowd size of over 20,000 for both sides consists of over 43% (that’s almost 9,000) over the age of 50. This shows that many of the loud attendants are alums, spouses of the alums, parents of players (including aunts from the provinces) and T-shirt collectors — some were observed to be wearing the numbers of already graduated players.
Visits to the restrooms during game time were restricted by the SRO crowd necessitating the limiting of toilet breaks to the warm-up period, half-time (with the longest queue), and the time right after the confetti shower. In the last restroom gap, the lines were shorter as one side of the crowd was still watching the post-game huddling and coach-hoisting.
Certain personalities known as photo bombers who rush to the hardcourt for pictures with the team and the coaching staff were physically barred from this pesky behavior and fastened to their assigned seats.
Championship shirts were already available at the stalls right after the ball was thrown up in the air at the last buzzer with the Finals MVP gladiatorially facing the crowd with raised arms and three fingers out on each fist indicating the significance of the win. Entrepreneurs understand risk and do not consider it bad luck to print shirts with a particular outcome. One professional team we will not mention here has a whole closet full of failed championship shirts useful only for sleepwear for the team owner’s close relatives in the provinces.
Connoisseurs of boring games with early double-digits held all throughout the game were alarmed. After all, the odds gave a double-digit gap for the winner. The running back and forth, full court press, and popping of rainbow shots did little to assure a leisurely conversation with a seat mate on the merits of the metaphysical poets John Donne and Andrew Marvell. (What? The lead is down to one point?)
As to popcorn sales, the vendors (like the washroom seekers) had to limit their radius of sales with mobility severely hampered by full seats, cheerleaders on the aisles, and kids with placards requiring those at the back to stand up and further clog the passageways.
As to the restaurants, it is to be noted that service time is longer by 20 minutes and the turnover slower by a factor of five. Diners hung on to their tables one hour longer as they nursed their empty coffee cups.
What about parking, you ask? Even three hours before the game (when they were giving out individual awards to players of other schools) only the fifth floor was still open. It was easy getting out, like going down from the hill; down to the world go I — was I humming?
It was a good day for wearing blue.
Tony Samson is Chairman and CEO, TOUCH xda.