As I looked around, all I can see is a sea of blue and green. Perched in my upper box B seat (thank you, block mates!), I have a magnificent view of the court as well as the audiences. I noticed that adults occupied the patron and lower boxes predominantly perhaps due to income. Some students can only afford or are only willing to pay for the upper boxes and general admissions ticket. Looking back at the court, the players were already warming up; the Green Archers players on one side of the ring while the Blue Eagles players are on the other. The same set up also applies for the spectators of the game. Ateneo supporters occupy half of the Araneta Coliseum and La Salle supporters fairly balance the other half. Where you choose to sit in this arrangement significantly matters for this confirms which side you’re on and against. Neutral is not an option.
My eyes roam on the faces of the Blue Eagles fans consisting of a wild variety of people. Most of them are in the age bracket of college students but there were also adults present who brought with them their family members, their kids, and even their date. During the course of the game, I heard the people behind me talking and found out that they were from another school. This confirms that the crowd is not only composed of Ateneo students but students from other schools are also drawn in to participate and offer their allegiance in this renowned skirmish. All of these assortments of people do have at least two things in common: 1. They’re all here to contribute their much-needed encouragement to their idols, their team, and their school. 2. They are all wearing the color blue.
Go Ateneo! One Big Fight!
The chant echoes throughout the place, throughout the people. I am not much of a basketball fan but the roars and reactions of the crowd swayed me into participating. My throat, I know the other’s too, is sore from screaming the same lines over and over again but no one dared to stop. We just kept on going whereas the opposing team tries to overpower us. The involvement of the crowd considerably matters for it boosts the player’s confidence in their play and in the game. Seeing the fans getting hyped up will give them the motivation to perform their best. The players are put under a lot of pressure in these types of situation because they are bearing the school’s name and the satisfaction of the audience depends greatly on them. When the Blue Eagles are leading, our cheers were deafening. It was etched in everybody’s minds that we are going to win today and the fact that we are ahead confirms it. However the Green Archers supporters remain firm and hopeful so they tried to buoy their team to catch up by screaming words of reassurance and inspiration, which worked brilliantly! They were able to go a massive 11 points over us.
Cheering properly is not only about volume. It entails actions and in a constrained place like the Araneta Coliseum, which is packed with people, movements are very limited. Only the arms are really free to move and move they did. Numerous fists pumping in the air to complement the chants is a proud gesture of determination. The clapping of the hands is a clear expression of pleasure every time the numbers in the scoreboard goes up and is accounted for the one who deserved it. The jumping up and down is the exclamation for glee. The slapping of the clapper balloons together make for a beautiful display and the holding of amusing signs (there was an abundant one given by the cheerleaders with “FIGHT” printed on one side and “WALA” printed on the other) up in the air is for intimidation, interruption and irritation. The La Salle devotees also execute the same things but there was one special thing that was uniquely theirs and displayed incredible unity. They did a crowd wave, which was so threatening but nice to look at. When it comes to cheers, they are the ones who are triumphant. Everywhere I look is a whirlwind of movements then it hit me that the basketball game is not the only on going battle here. The clash of the crowd is a showdown that is as equally exciting as the game. Although the mantras and gesticulations that were initially to inspire the players, they have become the medium of fighting between the opposing onlookers. Competition that emanated from the court is so strong that it spread all over to touch the surrounding seats and the people in it.
After a rollercoaster of confidence and worry, certainty and doubt, delight and disappointment, the game is finally concluded dubbing the Ateneo Blue Eagles the victor. As the Ateneo school anthem was being played, the people of La Salle respectfully kept quiet. When it was their turn to sing their anthem, we respectfully clapped our hands in honor of them for a great fight and their worthiness as adversaries. There were no controversies after the fight, no grudges held amid the rival teams and fans. When the horde of the crowd exited the doors of the coliseum, there were no division and dislike just friendly smiles and felicitations. I could never fathom why a lot of my friends would actually wake up at the crack of dawn to wait in line for hours just to purchase tickets. Now I understand why.