I watched my very first Ateneo-La Salle game when I was still a freshman in high school. I didn’t know much about the team, or even the sport then, but what I really didn’t expect coming in to the Araneta Coliseum was the audience. More than a thousand shouts and cheers for every basket made, the same reactions to every mistake a player commits, and the most important, a crowd of blue and green, battling it out for 2 hours. This is when I realized how extreme the rivalry of blue and green actually was, and this is when I fell in love with the game.
Because of the thrill and the intensity of the match between the two teams and the crowd, I haven’t missed an Ateneo-La Salle game since. I only used to watch rivalry games and finals, but it was in my freshman year of college when my boyfriend got in the Ateneo team, that lead me to watch every single game of the blue and white. I watched their games against every single school competing in the UAAP, and one thing’s for sure; nothing beats an Ateneo-La Salle matchup. No one cheers as loud and no one trash talks as much as the crowd of blue and green.
My most recent Ateneo-La Salle game was on September 29 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. I was seated in Patron so I did not really have a clear view of the Ateneo crowd, but whenever I cheered or stood up, I would look around to see everyone’s reaction, and everybody’s reactions were exactly the same as mine.
Right when I entered Araneta, the environment was already very festive. Cheering teams already playing their drums even though the two teams weren’t even on the court yet. In an Ateneo-La Salle game, the rivalry doesn’t start when it’s actual game time—it starts right when you enter Araneta. Evil stares and faces of disgust are already seen early on. While waiting for the game to start, the La Salle crowd already started cheering their infamous “Beat Ateneo, Animo La Salle” cheer, while the Ateneans just responded with a “One Big Fight!” When the two teams finally enter, you see no smile or any sense of enjoyment on any of the player’s faces. They’re serious, focused and ready to work, they are ready for the game to begin.
Throughout the game, collective reactions were the most obvious things coming from the audience. Jumps, screams, claps, and fists up in the air when either of the teams makes a point, while opposite reactions like leaning back on seats, faces of disappointment, and hands on faces when a player misses a shot. What excites the crowd the most is when the lead of the game changes. This is when the crowd really gets up in the other crowds face, throwing up their middle fingers, cursing, and trash talking. In my opinion, this is what makes these types of games so exciting and fun to watch.
Halftime begins, and I use this break to really observe everyone in The Big Dome. I get out of my seat, go out to buy some food, and I see something unusual. I see shirts the shade of blue and green actually interacting and having fun. This is when I realize, the rivalry stops outside of the game. During the game, rival teams may hate each other, curse at each other, want to punch each other in the faces, but outside the game, it’s all fun and laughs. I even ran into my own La Sallian friends and stayed with them the whole halftime break. It didn’t matter if we were cheering for opposite teams, and it didn’t matter if we hated each other on the court, outside the game, we were still friends.
The game continues, and so does the number of deadlocks. Eventually, La Salle leads the game by 11 points, and you could really see the faces of disappointment in the Ateneo crowd. Some Ateneans had lost hope, but most Ateneans cheered until the end. I guess you could say the amount of the lead of La Salle and how loud the Ateneo crowd cheered had a direct relationship. The higher the lead got, the louder the cheer for “Get that ball!” became. The lead eventually got smaller, and smaller until Ateneo caught up and lead by 2. By this time, emotions shifted, Ateneans were happy and La Sallians were sad.
The game was getting rough, the players were so into the game, and were already so different from how they were off-court. They were focused, nervous, and serious, compared to how they are off-court, carefree and happy. Eventually, Ateneo won and the entire crowd was jumping and screaming for joy since it was such a close and exciting game. The La Sallians, however, were the exact opposite. Some of the players were crying, some people in the audience were crying, and the rest were sad and disappointed.
What I learned from this experience and all the other times I have gone to basketball games, is that basketball may be just a sport, but to others it’s something they look forward to, something that brings them great enjoyment, and to the players, it’s their life. Basketball has such a huge impact on the schools involved, and everyone else rooting for these schools. Watching games—it’s a good feeling, no, it’s a great feeling. Win or lose, cheering for your school is nothing but fun. You may be sad that you lost or you may be happy that you won, the experience is thrilling, and nothing can replace that feeling.
Simona Lopez SA21-Q