Fair Play: In defense of the Azkals

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on March 10)
NO, I’m not talking about the locker room incident that had Cristy Ramos filing a case for sexual harassment against Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.

That’s now with the disciplinary committee and, I guess, I may not be the right person to comment on that because I get Lexton Moy’s remarks, having referred to all sorts of stuffs through terms related to a woman’s anatomy, that in hindsight sounded offensive if a woman was in earshot, but was never intended to be offensive. (Any guy who’s put on a shirt, shoe, glove, or even gone through a door that’s a size too short or too big, have made such remark at least once. And yes, it always elicits laughter and that banter isn’t even influenced by a locker room atmosphere.)
I’m talking about some of the moves, comments and suggestions from all sorts of sectors, that frankly, sound ridiculous.  It seems some have an agenda and they are riding on the Cristy Ramos incident to push it.

There’s one by a writer who said the Azkal players could be deported. Well, you really can’t play in a Fifa-sanctioned match for the Philippines without a Philippine passport, so, Lexton and Angel could be deported? To where? The Philippines?

Then there’s this suggestion from one of my favorite secretaries of the Aquino administration, Dinky Soliman, that the Azkals undergo a psychological test.   Really, Dinky? A psychological test? In a highly-political time when the president is…never mind.

And then there’s Recah Trinidad.  Dear old Recah stumbled with an anti-Azkal rant last year, and though he took that back, I know writers like him bide their time, waiting for that perfect moment.

And he found it and I think he actually hit two birds with one stone—the Azkals, and this “bogus Filipino senior colleague” who reportedly told another columnist not to touch the Azkal issue.

And then he wrote, “The dugout incident bared the low regard among most of the imported members of the Azkals team for their host country that continued to extend them undue admiration.”

Low regard and undue admiration? That’s his whole point, isn’t it? He thinks the Azkals don’t deserve one iota of newspaper space or fan admiration and that the players really don’t appreciate the country.

Of course, whoever a fan admires or follows is up to the fan and there are never wrong decisions when it comes to this. And I think the Azkals earned their support. As for low regard to the host country, anyone who has read Lexton’s articles about his adventures here knows how much this guy loves the country.

And what about a recent admission by PBA courtside reporter Liad Cruz? In her article for Aksyon TV, she wrote that in her eight years covering locker rooms, she's been subjected to "lewd remarks and jokes, maybe even a hand grabbing a butt cheek."

Do those incidents prove that those guys don’t deserve "undue admiration too?"  And would a suspension be too mild a reprimand for these guys, too?

Or does it simply prove, as what Cruz’s article taught me, that male athletes need to learn a thing or two when dealing with female officials, reporters, and fans even.  I think every Juan, too, needs to learn, dial back on our sexist jokes a bit.  Yes it’s funny, but that doesn’t make it right.

What happened to Cristy was unfortunate, and I hope all teams—not just the Azkals—learn from it. What may be pre-game, or just plain, banter to some, may be offensive to others.

And because of what they are now, every move of the Azkals will be under the microscope, and they’ll be judged faster than Fernando Torres can miss.   They have to be careful.

I don’t think the incident shows that the Azkals are a bunch of pig-headed boors. Because they aren’t, really and I’ve never seen a bunch of guys more appreciative of their fans.  It just shows that like any other guy their age (or even older) out there, they still have to learn.  Even on how to behave in the privacy of a locker room.

But crucify a team, and a sport, that has worked so hard to get to where they are because two players are facing charges?

No. I think not.



Ina said…
kudos to you mr limpag! these are the exact same words i've been harboring in my heart and mind since day 1 of this controversy. I so appreciate the efforts of level-headed writers like you na walang hidden agenda. Please continue your brand of writing/thinking and may you continue to be the voice of reason amidst these crazy,crab-like mentalities most people so arrogantly display.

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