Fair Play: Facebooking the Azkals

I WAS taking notes of the Azkals vs. Indonesia game for a story and I tried to be as impartial as possible.

It lasted about one minute.

The last time I tried to do that—in Bacolod 2007—I lasted a bit longer. Try imagining screaming at the top of your lungs while taking notes. You can’t. So one thing has to give way.

Last Thursday, we cheered wildly for our boys, while jeering at the Indonesians and the ref. Heck, I have a new favorite athlete to hate, Okto. And last Thursday night, I wanted to turn Okto into a quatro.

And judging from the reaction in Facebook, every Pinoy sports fan felt the same, except for that annoying colleague who found the Azkals’ loss funny.

Aaah, Facebook. It’s making jerks out of nice folks.

I guess some just can’t recognize sports patriotism even if it dances butt naked in front of them.

He was just probably joking but as a sports reporter you never, ever, ever, ever, EVER, make fun of a fan’s loyalty.

Doing that, in a social networking site, is suicide, especially when the game is ongoing.

It wasn’t funny. It never is.

And it’s never funny if you make fun of someone else’s passion.

I’m in Bohol for a vacation, but I left my family mid-meal, so I could rush back to the Metrocenter Hotel for the game.

When the missus caught me in the room, I was in the middle of a heated debate with the TV, which probably hasn’t heard such invectives thrown at it.

Nobody was spared. The refs, the commentators, the coach and the players, the door, the mirror!!!

“Are you effin blind!”

“Are you that stupid? Do I have to give you a P5,000 talay before you start talking sense?”

“He’s open, he’s open, he’s OPEENNNN!!!”

Buang ka!!!!” I screamed at the mirror.

Mine was hardly a unique experience.

Thousands of fans all over the country were having the same experience, a unique one!

In boxing, well, fans either post their reaction before or after the fight, rarely during it.

In basketball, well, nobody gave a rat’s ass about Smart Gilas, that pseudo-amateur team packed with players who earn at least P150,000 a month.

In football, well, everybody was venting his or her frustrations on their status updates. Poor refs, they got cussed so many times over.

For these Azkals to have done that is amazing. They have captured the hearts of a nation the way Manny Pacquiao did (though, of course, to a lesser degree.)

Just a month ago, nobody knew them. Now, ever body wants a piece of them, jerks included.
And that is the power of football.

DON’T WAKE US. Here’s a comment from Alex E (aetcuban@yahoo.com):

Massive performance even if we lost. Hopefully, the Indons would be nervous next game. I hope we score first. That will rattle them more. But to put things in perspective, the Azkals have accomplished the impossible already. Football is back in our sports pages. Pinoys are talking footie. If I am in a dream, don't wake me. Come on Azkals, we believe!!!

Yup, this team has made believers out of us.


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