Seeing a PBA game with more empty seats than an inter-barangay match, especially in the heat of the Philippine Cup playoffs, is as heartbreaking for a Pinoy basketball fan as those sappy Jollibee ads. Watching the game getting brutalized on TV with some horrendous calls and scanning the ensuing comments war online, though, is more excruciating.
The PBA says they’re fine, the officiating is objective, the money keeps coming in. But all you have to do is keep track of the dwindling number of fans watching the game live to see that the league is anything but fine. And it’s getting harder and harder to watch the games without asking yourself why you keep bringing this pain to yourself. Love for the game, perhaps. That burning passion in every Pinoy basketball fan that just wants the league to be better.
Well this fan has a few suggestions, serious and otherwise, to fix what ails the PBA.
To be fair, referees have the hardest jobs on the court. The stress that comes with the job also far outweighs the reward, so it’s hard to blame the entire profession if a few bad apples resort to other means for some balance in the pressure-to-income ratio. By the way, it took several minutes to put that thought down in the most diplomatic manner.
But the league has been plagued by shady calls for years, something many fans have mentioned as a reason why the PBA continues to lose viewers especially in the venues. The Philippine Cup semifinals matches, for example, have seen some of the strangest head-scratching calls in recent memory.
The PBA is a business, sure, but isn’t it a good business move to provide a quality product that could bring the fans back inside the venue rather than trolling each other online? The way things have played out so far, it might be too much to ask for even just one fairly officiated game. But we’re asking anyway, even for just one game, maiba lang.
Here’s another business-savvy and fan-pleasing move, bring back retro jerseys. Have a throwback game, with both clubs wearing retro jerseys to ignite some interest and win back some old-timers. Nostalgia sells, remember?
Not all ballclubs have rich histories, though, so what could also work is to have both teams wear the short shorts players wore in the '70s and '80s. The new batch of rookies have already been doing it, so why not make it trend even for one game.
If we can’t have fair officiating, why not make the most of it. How about showing replays of questionable plays sponsored by an eyewear company or those earworm-inducing ula-lam ads in the background? That’s something that will definitely cook up a storm on social media.
Two no-nonsense talkers in Guiao, who’s free to do so at the moment with NLEX on early vacation, and Baldwin taking over commentary during live games would also make watching the matches more bearable. Plus, these two have the guts to make (and have already made) candid quips on live television that’s fresher than the trivia-laden small talk from the usual commentators. The games are already getting harder and harder to watch, why not freshen it up with some unadulterated insights?
Allein Maliksi as PBA spokesperson
Nah. The PBA’s already a mess as it is in handing out fines for the most strange reasons as ‘sarcastic behavior’ or ‘foisting a stickum.’ Speaking of fines…
Chill on the fines, Kume
The league’s already getting a beating for being greedy with the officiating issue apparently favoring one particular cash cow. The relentless barrage of fines since the start of the season—already exceeding P600,000 in just three months—just adds to that perception. To be fair though, the league officials and team coaches have already met about relaxing the application of the rules when it comes to handing down fines for certain violations. It remains to be seen if the PBA pushes through with this plan. Stay tuned.