Gilas and ‘fallacy of heart’
Patriotism doesn’t win games.
Neither does faith. So when my Facebook wall was deluged with frantic messages from friends watching that cliffhanger of a game between Gilas Pilipinas and Croatia last Saturday night, I could have quipped, “No thanks but keep me out of it please.” And we all know what happened.
Dr. Roni Venzon of Taytay, Rizal, agonized afterwards: “Masakit… masakit.” I imagined he was on the verge of a heart attack and I was swept with sadness. I knew how much Roni loved the game since we were high school friends. In the “postmortem,” another friend, writing idol Ron de los Reyes, would proclaim, “a gallant stand nonetheless by Gilas.”
The truth hurts, but I refused to be cowed from saying this at the risk of friends unfriending me or, worse, of enemies killing me for good measure. You just know when a case is a hopeless case, and basketball, Gilas Pilipinas for that matter, is a classic example. We worship the Gilas players. We make heroes out of them. We bet our happiness in every game they play. One giant billboard on Edsa advertises fried chicken with pictures of Gilas Pilipinas players, praising them to high heavens for playing their hearts out. Where is the connection there?
But we believe. Yes, we believe! When we win we believe it’s because of heart. When we lose, we believe it’s enough that we showed heart. For all the things it does to keep us alive, the heart is just a pumping organ, but thanks to some brilliant marketing spins, the heart has replaced the mind at the core of our feelings and reason. And so we hold on to what I call the “fallacy of the heart,” and I am sick and tired of the way the spin doctors of Gilas will mention heart whenever the team plays. Heart this, heart that, heart everything. In that game against the Croatians, the latter had as much heart, maybe even more. What they have that we don’t is height, but we refuse to acknowledge this physical handicap that we have, believing heart will make up for everything.
I am not a hater. God knows how much I used to love the game. When I was a kid, I was the only person in the family, the youngest one at that, rooting for Toyota in a household full of diehard Crispa fans. But one day, I grew old—and then during the centennial year of Philippine Independence in 1998, the fancied Centennial Team led by the Big J and Mon Fernandez lost to China, not by one point, not by 10 points, but read this: 65 points! That game broke my heart to pieces in a manner that no woman has ever done before. I quit watching basketball after that, not even when Michael Jordan was doing magical things on the hard court. Never again. I realized I’ve had enough heartache when the Centennial Team lost by a 65-point blowout to China. That’s when I said I’m done. Another heartbreak like that would probably kill me.
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