By Owdylyn Lee 973
The game was scheduled on a Thursday afternoon, 2:00PM to be exact. People were starting to crowd the football field by the time I arrived. It was cloudy and windy at the same time. For me, the perfect weather because I no longer had to hide from the glaring sun. It was the first time for me to actually see a majority of college students attending a game. The last time I’ve seen this much people at a gathering was during my ORSEM last two years ago. I’m kidding. But it’s really rare for me to see everyone you know come together to cheer for a game.
When the game was starting, I was already outside the football field trying to look for the entrance. As I walked along the outskirts of the field, there I saw the big difference of the fans of UP and of ADMU. Aside from the major difference of having a lot more people wearing maroon on the right side of the field. It seemed as if people were a lot calmer that area. I first walked to the right side of the field where our visitors (UP Diliman fans) were staying to take a closer picture of the scoreboard which at that time was obviously 0-0. People weren’t very “defensive” of their space. Defensive in a way that they’d think you would hog their space, well they weren’t. It was actually easier to get a closer look at the players from the right side, but of course I had to stay the left side to support THE Ateneo.
While walking, I saw a number of food stalls that caters to the audience watching the game. I’m guessing that their sales for that day was a lot higher compared to other football game days because this was already the First game for the Football championship and there was really a lot of people. When I finally saw my friend’s shirt among the bleachers, I squeezed into the crowd to get closer to them. They were staying at the left side of the Women’s football team’s tent so there was a big crowd. Let me tell you, it was a lot harder to squeeze through the Ateneo crowd because people just wouldn’t want to give me some space! Nevertheless, I was able to go through. My friends scooted over to give me a place to sit. I wanted to pretend that this was okay because they’re my friends, but I felt partly guilty because they were there before me and yet was still standing. While I, who came after them, had a comfortable seat right in front of the game.
At first I didn’t really understand the way the game was being played or the rules that were being imposed on them. I didn’t understand why they never stopped the timer whenever someone gets hurt which is very unlike basketball. In basketball it seems like they love to stop time, because they do it every chance they get to. Luckily though, my friend Charlotte was seated right beside me. She used to play futsal and the rules in football and futsal is basically the same except for a few minor adjustments about the size of the field or something like that. She explained to me that the game really works like that because if they keep halting the timer then it’ll be very tiring for the players because they have to play longer than the 90-minute game. She continued on saying that the players were not allowed to touch each other or the ball.
While watching the game, everyone around me was loud. And there was a lot of swearing going on. But then after a while, my friends were very quiet while watching the game. I looked around and saw that everyone else was also quiet. So it suddenly occurred to me that they were all nervous. The UP football team had already managed to score without me looking and the Ateneo football team was really pushing not to lose. I was so nervous one time that I stopped from all my exhausting cheering and started to look at the people around me. In front of me was a girl group of freshmen and behind me were this couple and their friends watching the game with them. Right beside our bleacher, there was this guy who was so passionate about the game. He would constantly curse and stand up to try to fight with the referees but he didn’t do it. Aside from the sites, there were also different kinds of smell. The smell of hotdog, grass, and sweat permeated the place. It wasn’t very stinky because those smells weren’t very strong.
The athletes during the game were so intense. I kept on shouting and cheering so loud that some were already giving me the bad eye. At one point, they started to fight with one another but their friends who were watching told them that it’s okay and to focus on the game. After about 40 minutes of waiting, Ateneo finally scored. That time the crowd really went wild. It was such a happy three-minute moment. People stood up to dance the players were hugging one another. It was as if they already won the game but they haven’t for the score was tied to 1-1. When the 90-minute game ended with no one scoring another point, The had to extend for 30 minutes and even then no one scored again. So in the end, Ateneo won against UP with 5-4 kick out. Looking back, I would say that the three-minute happy moment when everyone was cheering and dancing would be one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. Being there felt right, it felt that I am and always will be part of this, part of Ateneo.
1. What insights were gained from participation compared to just observing?
I participated in the cheering of the teams not the actual game. If i were to just observe the game and watch other people. It would’ve been boring. My focus wouldn’t be on the game itself or how the crowd reacted but on how people acted while watching the game. How others were so rude because they were already cursing. But because I was watching and cheering everything around me was muted. I placed my focus on what is in front of me and on what people were doing so that I could go with the cheering team. It made the experience a lot more fun. And since I was focus on the game, I saw the athletes drinking water and I asked myself where they got those bottles of water and I realised that the managers who were inside the tent beside our bleachers were throwing water bottles to them. If you could imagine, the image was like an image from Hunger Games were the capitol people would send the kids inside the Game supplies to reward them.
2. What did having a key informant add to your understanding?
Without the key informant, I wouldn’t know when or how to cheer. It added to my knowledge because I had no knowledge of what happens in a football game to begin with. When one of the UP players kicked out a ball so that one of the Atenean player would be taken care of because he got injured, the Atenean player kicked the ball out again and I found that confusing. But then my friend explained to me what happened and said that the player from Ateneo was just returning the favor. Even simple things or moments like these placed a question mark on my face, but since my friend was there to explain to me. It made me enjoy the game a lot more.
3. What was learned from participant observation at this event that a questionnaire or interview about it might miss?
A questionnaire or interview won’t be able to capture the adrenaline rush while watching the game. If you say the crowd went wild compared to actually seeing it, the story becomes different because an interview or questionnaire will be focusing on why the crowd went wild and when you get the answer for that it becomes to logical instead of emotional. In participant observation, you can also see the real nature of people who surrounds you. Instead of asking them what kind of person they are, you can guess it by the way they act.And lastly,it is in participant observation that you get to see the whole picture. You are the one who creates the story because your eyes will focus on a certain area but other people will focus on another. So it might be that I would say it was a great game exciting even, others might say that it was so boring they would rather go to sleep.
4. For what purposes might a questionnaire or interview be better than participant observation?
A questionnaire would be better if you were to know a certain history. It is when you need facts but behaviours. Just like our family history project, I can’t go back in time and see what happened in my parent’s life because that would be impossible, but i can ask them what life was for them and maybe they’ll be able to paint me a picture.