I didn’t have to read this article to know the most popular sport in the Philippines is basketball. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s annoying to some people (like me) who aren’t into it.
I can’t play any kind of sport these days because of age and injuries, but even if I could, I wouldn’t play basketball. It’s not a contact sport, like American football, but every time I played it (when I was much, much younger) I got hurt. I was a lousy player because I wasn’t aggressive enough to enjoy it.
Basketball in Olongapo City
I will never understand why my wife, Josie, is such a big basketball fan. The last time she played, she was in high school. Our older son, Joe, started playing when he was young and still plays on occasion. Josie wanted to watch the Chicago Bulls (and Michael Jordan) so badly in the 1990s, I ended up putting in a satellite dish, just so she wouldn’t miss a game.
There are regular courts in Olongapo City and then there are street courts. The street courts are half-courts. When we visited Josie’s family in the Kalaklan barangay (subdivision) in 1986, all of her brothers played basketball on a full-court nearby. The city paved the street we live on in 2006, which was in progress when we moved here. Shortly after, two street courts appeared near opposite ends of the street. People aren’t playing at those courts all the time, but I can usually hear at least one ball bouncing at all hours of the day and night.
Professional Teams in the Philippines
Unlike professional basketball teams in the United States, professional basketball teams in the Philippines take the names of their sponsors. Like “San Miguel” or “Coca-Cola”. It makes me wonder what happens when the sponsor drops the team. Does the team disband, or does it get sponsored by some other company and change its name?
It’s called the PBA (sort of like the NBA in the United States), which is 12 company-branded franchise teams. My relatives will watch them on television when they’re playing. It’s more important to them than the latest blockbuster movie.
No Life Without Basketball
Or so it seems. Filipinos seem to eat, drink and breathe basketball, excluding all other forms of entertainment. They play it in the rain, and they play it at night, when others are sleeping or are supposed to be sleeping. I can hear the ball bouncing at the closest court. I don’t like hearing it bounce when I’m trying to sleep after 10 pm. After many years of living here, I still find it annoying. Sometimes, it’s the only thing keeping me from falling asleep. It doesn’t seem to bother Josie at all.
I can’t watch it on TV for very long. It’s not basketball itself, it’s all the advertising that goes with it. It’s the same reason I can’t watch the romantic dramas with Josie. American television stations air 20 minutes of commercials per hour. In the Philippines, it seems like 40 minutes per hour. I’m not kidding. I timed one commercial break at 10 minutes.