Hooliganism shouldn't be tolerated in UAAP basketball
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-09-15
After the 74th UAAP seniors’ basketball season started, your Chair Wrecker had to apologize to friends Willie Nepomuceno and Boots Anson-Roa for temporarily ceasing to watch their Music and Memories (M & M) DZMM-TeleRadyo program. M & M has been my favorite Sunday pastime because Willie and Boots play my kind of music and the trips down memory lane are treats to a Baby Boomer missing the good ole days.

This 74th UAAP basketball season has been very exciting. Other than the Ateneo Blue Eagles, which won 13 of their elimination round games before losing to Adamson University last Saturday, we witnessed how ranked cellar dwellers defeated some so-called highly touted teams. In this season, no team could take a cellar dweller lightly.

Not exactly more talented than their competitors, the Ateneo Blue Eagles played with sustained intensity to win their 13 consecutive wins. Their loss to Adamson is certainly not an upset because Adamson is a bad match up for Ateneo. Their assigned Adamson defenders stifle several Ateneo starters — notably Nico Salva, Emman Monfort and Kiefer Ravena.

The drive to bring glory to one’s alma mater is what makes the UAAP competitions very intense. However, in that intensity, we noticed the emergence of an ugly aspect of competitions — unnecessary rough housing. The UST (University of Santo Tomas) versus FEU (Far Eastern University) September 8th game was particularly rough and ugly.

In that UST-FEU game, the referees were not calling the most blatant rough tactics. Once the refs fail to penalize a flagrant or unsportsmanlike foul — that becomes an invitation for more of it. Having followed basketball competitions for over five decades now, many of the non-calls of that game came as a shock to your Chair Wrecker. UST’s Karim Abdul, a Came-roonian, lost his temper because the refs had allowed rough — and at times dirty — tactics to be inflicted upon him. Ironically, he was the one meted a game suspension for retaliating with an elbow.

Your Chair Wrecker has been very vocal in denouncing the importation of foreign players who do not even have a trace of Filipino ancestry in them. At least the importation of Filipino-Americans gives us a handle for our hypocrisy. We get to console our “win at all cost” loser mentality by saying it’s acceptable because they have Filipino roots.

However, there’s no justifying applying one officiating standard for locals and another for foreign players. Another wrong does not make right a previous wrong. If the league wants to level the playing field, double standard officiating isn’t the way to do it. Ban non-Filipinos and you avoid these imbalances.

The many non-calls for extreme rough housing during that UST-FEU game cannot also be justified as preparing players for international competitions. Many of the employed dirty tactics in that UST-FEU game aren’t allowed in international competitions. Play that way in the Asian Games or the SEA Games and you’ll be lucky not to foul out during the first quarter.
UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao may not realize it that if a player in the tournament suffers a serious injury because the refs failed to curb hooliganism on the hard court — the league could be held accountable. Depending on the severity of the injury, especially if it can be proved that this was encouraged by ref non-calls, even the UAAP officials can be held liable for negligence. The UAAP is responsible for the safety and welfare of all tournament competitors and the spectators inside the venue.

If these demonstrations of rowdy behavior on the playing court manage to provoke a riot in the venue, the UAAP could also be held liable for all damages and injuries. Non-calls of what are flagrant fouls tend to agitate partisan crowds. Feeling aggrieved, the irate partisans in the venue could be provoked to express their frustrations in a violent manner. The Final Four will intensify passions and the refs must control the games from start to finish.

It’s not only for the fear of accountability that UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao and the other league officials should ensure that there’s always fair officiating that will constantly enforce the rules on disallowed personal contacts. They should fix this problem because incompetent or unfair officiating defeats the very purpose of friendly competitions. Instead of fostering goodwill among the participating schools, there is animosity and hatred that is bred. Instead of promoting sportsmanship, the league becomes a platform for demonstrating how to win at all costs, even to the point of inflicting injury.

These non-calls of flagrant fouls reflect the rot in our society — how people will try to pull a fast one if they can get away with it and how officials who do not implement the rules of conduct encourage this. Being educational institutions, the UAAP schools should be in the forefront of correcting this corrosive mindset. They shouldn’t conduct competitions where this mindset is reinforced.

There’s another angle to why these non-calls are happening. It could be the result of game fixing, when refs are bribed to handicap a team and favor another.

* * *

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo