Animo! One Big Fight! Go USTe! And other catchy phrases that would keep on ringing in your head as a person screams his hearts out. These phrases sound familiar right? Whether you’re a student from a competing team, an alumni or just a plain civilian, college basketball has always been a part of college of Filipinos’ culture. Year after year, fans keep on buying tickets in order to support their favorite schools.
Before the regular UAAP and NCAA season starts, a preseason tournament is held. That tournament is called the FilOil Flying V tournament. It’s a league that features all of the teams from both the UAAP and NCAA tournaments. In this league, older rivals meet again (Ateneo vs. Sanbeda, La Salle and Letran) and current rivals (Ateneo vs. La Salle, Ateneo vs. San Sebastian) get a chance to test each other before their respective seasons start.
Our group of friends chose to go to the Filoil Flying-V arena in San Juan in order to watch the games in the tournament. We chose this place because it is nearer and fits our schedule. The game that we watched was a battle between the currently leading and undefeated San Beda Red Lions and the cellar dwelling University of Perpetual Help System Dalta Altas. This game was predicted as a sure win for the San Beda Red Lions but we chose it anyway because there are two Bedan alumni in our group (Byron and I).
After class, we headed to the Arena at San Juan. The game would start at 1:45 so we had plenty of time to go to the place. We parked and we walked towards the arena. One can clearly see its circular, dome-like structure from the outside. From the inside, the court is on the center and it features different levels. The three levels are Ringside, Lower Box and Upper Box with each costing 175, 100, 20 pesos respectively. The prices go higher as the level of competition rises. We assumed that the way the Arena was build is for the maximization of space so that people could view it easily from all directions. People are arranged in such a way that they surround the court. Even before entering the Arena, one could already hear the beats of the drums and the screams from both of the sides. The arena is also divided into two so that both sides can see and cheer against each other. We sat in the middle in order to see the action from both sides.
There are only a few people who watched this game which can be attributed to the fact that the Atlas would really pose a threat to the Red Lions. We observed that the people who are nearer to the center are those people who seem to come from those schools playing and each of the sides were wearing their school’s colors (The Bedans were wearing red and the Atlas supporters were wearing maroon) in order to support their teams. We also assumed that some may be their sponsors or for some who maybe friends and relatives of the players since I know that players are given complimentary tickets in every game. In the crowd, they are the people who are very enthusiastic and very into the game. They cheer their hearts out for the players and the team that they support. We even heard someone cursing because of a bad call from the referee. Screaming and shouting to the beat of the drums, defense! Defense! These people that are nearer to the court are given more significance socially in the arena. It is because of their value and status to the players and the game itself. Maybe they’re close to the players or the sponsors of the teams or maybe they just have the money to be seated up close. This type of scenario can also be seen in sports competitions abroad like in the NBA or boxing, celebrities like Jay-Z the hiphop mogul and also the owner of the Nets and Spike Lee for the Knicks, tend to be seated in the front seats near to the court. Their social value is high(Jay-Z being the owner and Spike Lee just having the money in order to support his beloved team), and so they are seated nearer to the action, and to the game.
In the upper and lower box levels of the court is where the students from the schools are seated. They also shout and scream as much as the ones in the ringside area. The only difference is that they don’t have the connections, money to sit at the ringside area. Or they might have the money but they just chose to sit farther in order to save up a few pesos.
The ones in the general admissions area (the farthest from the court) are the civilians and the people just looking to pass time by watching the game. They don’t look like they are part of those schools involved. They look like they just came to watch the game, they don’t cheer and are less enthusiastic. And their social significance to the game and players is minimal, they are just spectators. The seats seem to become less and less comfortable as distance changes as well.
Also in the general admissions area are the cheering squads, they are placed there so that the loud drums wouldn’t be a bother to the people watching on the lower levels. They add more life to the game by beating ferociously and also starting the cheers for each team. They are the living entities that represent the school spirit that the team needs in the game. The beats that they produce are fast paced so that it pumps up not only the players but the crowd as well. The energetic aura that they produce makes the game much more enjoyable and lively. With every situation in the game, the speed and the deepness of the bass line changes.
In the end, the game ended with an overwhelming victory for San Beda. The final score was 74-55. But we didn’t leave yet, we had to stay for the singing of each of the schools’ hymns. The crowd was very active in the singing of their hymns, holding their fists up high as the cheering squads and the drum lines play their hymns. We also noticed that each of both of the sides respected each other’s hymn, they waited for the hymns to finish and both were very silent when a hymn was being sung by the opposing side. College basketball is truly the place where Filipinos show their sportsmanship, competitiveness and camaraderie. I sang the Bedan Hymn and left with a very familiar feeling inside me, the feeling of VICTORY!