In the midst of all the brouhaha about the NBA Finals Game 7, the citizens of the Philippines do not care and do not know that there is an estimated 380,000 foreign fans who travelled and will travel to South Africa to watch the World Cup; there are already 2.9 million tickets sold for its various matches this year; an estimated 3.2 billion US dollars earned by FIFA in media and marketing revenues; and, 60 million estimated number of viewers who will watch the World Cup finals on television.
However, in the Philippines we seem to not belong in the above stated statistics. It is because majority of us find soccer as a boring low scoring game. It is because we do not know the names of the players (David Beckham is more of a husband of Posh Spice and more of an underwear model than a soccer player to us). It is because we do not know its history or the game’s tactics. We just essentially see 22 men running up and down a huge field chasing and kicking a ball.
But it is a totally different scenario in Bangkok, Thailand. I was almost bitten by the World Cup bug during my short stay in Bangkok last weekend. The international sports all I was exposed to was nothing but World Cup. It’s everywhere in Bangkok! You can really feel the South African World Cup fever.
My first night, I was amazed by the young Caucasian-race foreigners crowding at almost all bars along Khaosan Road watching and cheering on the games flashed on TV screens and digital projectors. The stores in Siam Square are decorated by massive billboards promoting the games. The streets are full of promotional materials bearing the various superstar players of the game. Magazines, newspapers and even restaurant bar’s bulletin boards are headlining the highlights and schedules of the games. Even at the airport, the travelers waiting for their boarding time are all stuck on the TV screen watching the games.
I do not understand the underlying excitement that has the world captivated about this sport. Some even believe that fans riot out of boredom but I totally disagree because if boring sports like soccer lead to aggressive spectators, we must surely witness a lot of blood during a chess match. I believe that in soccer, it’s just so hard to score that is why tension and excitement builds up which leads to full blast celebration when one player makes a goal.
Filipinos have yet to be mystified by the sport maybe it’s also because it’s like some food from other countries which we think is gross and some things we eat is gross to them. It’s the way we are raised and what we have grown accustomed to. We love NBA because we are so American! I still find soccer to be absolutely boring yet I am mystified as to why it’s so damned intense in other parts of the world like Thailand.
Kung boring sa atin, eh bakit “sipa” ang pambansang laro?