Saturday, February 21, 2009

Manny Pacquiao tales

MONICO Puentevella’s speech during the Sportswriters Association of Cebu-Sports Awards was one of the longest I’ve ever heard.

Fortunately it wasn’t boring as his tales of Pacquiao and other stuff were more interesting than the usual “Pacquiao will KO this and that” stuff we read and hear in the news.

I learned from the speech that when Pacquiao visited Congress after his victory over Oscar de la Hoya, the first person he looked for was Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Who is Rep. Rodriguez? He was the congressman who tried to stop the fight because he was afraid Pacquiao would get hurt.

Rodriguez reluctantly approached Pacquiao and the boxer, who was peeved when the congressman tried to stop his fight, merely said, “I was inspired by your insults.”

Rodriguez just nodded.

Puentevella also added that Pacquiao, as evident in the post-match interview we see on TV, tries so hard to answer the questions in English. Sometimes he amazes the interviewers with his straight English, sometimes it ends in disaster.

Puentevella said during one interview for the de la Hoya fight, he was impressed with Pacquiao’s grasp of the English language but had to squirm at the end when the Pinoy said, “But if I lose, that means I suck.”

According to the congressman, Larry Merchant, the famous boxing commentator, was heard asking, “What did he just say?”

ABOITIZ CUP. When I started working as a reporter for the Freeman back in 1997, I remember I used to look forward to Aboitiz Cup games.

Back then, games were held every Sunday at the Cebu City Sports Center, before it got to be at that sorry state now, and I’d be at the venue at 8 a.m. for the first game, until the final whistle at 5 p.m.

They had no stats, no match reports, no standings. So I did my own. I remember I even tallied every foul, free and corner kicks each team got in each game just to have more color in my story.

I also paid my way in the venue.

After every game, I’d go down from my lofty special seat at the grandstand to check with the coaches who scored what at this minute.

Thanks to my efforts, my stories then were almost always the banner.

Now, match results are just a call or even a text away, so why did the Aboitiz Cup receive such miniscule publicity?

The Cebu Football Association met with sportswriters the other day to discuss that issue.

Sports reporters today sometimes have to cover a lot of events in a single day and they can’t be in one from 8 to 5. So what they do is they divide their time. They go to the events they want to watch and just call, waiting for a text or e-mail for the results of the other events they don’t want to cover.

And football is high on the list of events they don’t want to cover.

The meeting addressed some of the issues raised by the reporters, especially one regarding the lack of access to information. Reporters can’t write about games if they don’t have information about it.

But Cebu football can also help push for its publicity and it can take its strength from its numbers.

There were some 2,000 players in the Aboitiz Cup. If each player was to buy the paper that reports about the tournament, that’s an added 2,000 for a paper’s circulation in a single event. If the parents also bought a paper or two that’s 4,000 or 6,000 more papers sold for just a single tournament.

Providing the results, schedules, match details is nice—though that doesn’t guarantee reporters will write about your event—but an effective way of “persuading” coverage for football is to buy the paper that supports the sport.


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