Pages: Should the PBA have forgiven Balkman?-A A +A
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
IT'S the season of Lent. It’s the moment when -- listening to the homilies of the priests and reading the Gospel readings -- there’s a central message that’s being proclaimed.
Repentance. And forgiveness.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Which brings me to the controversy that has gotten the basketball world’s attention: Renaldo Balkman.
I’m sure you’ve heard of what happened. In last Friday (March 8) night’s PBA game between the Petron Blaze Boosters and Alaska Aces, the Puerto-Rican-American import of Petron erupted in an unbelievably sad turn of events.
With just 21.6 seconds left in the game when Petron was losing to Alaska, Balkman went ballistic. After complaining about not getting fouled, he charged against a referee.
He not only berated him verbally but pushed him with his 6-foot-8 large body. After one referee, he charged another. Then a third one. Petron’s assistant coach Biboy Ravanes tried to calm the import. To no avail. Same with his teammate Roland Tubid -- who was pushed by Balkman. The worst came with his Petron teammate, Arwind Santos.
When the lanky Santos tried to pacify his friend, he was pushed and choked!
Unbelievable. It was possibly the first time in PBA history that such aggressive acts happened.
This wasn’t the first hostile act of Balkman. Formerly with the NBA where he played for six years with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets, Balkman was involved in a head-butting incident when his Puerto Rico team played Venezuela in a FIBA-Americas game. Here in Cebu in a preseason game versus (again) Alaska, he was involved in another physical, unsportsmanlike act.
You should watch the YouTube video of his PBA incident. As of 6:43 last night, it recorded 1.6 million hits. It’s clear that Balkman is at fault. That’s a fact. Many call him crazy. And war freak. But, despite his hot-headedness, he apologized. In another YouTube video in AKTV, he and Arwind Santos appeared together on TV, side by side, as friends. He was apologetic. He said sorry. Many times.
Still, the damage is done. His reputation, tarnished. What he did will be repeated in videos millions of times more. That he can’t undo.
The PBA? In a decision released last Monday, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud -- after talking with Balkman for an hour in his office -- handed out his statement: Balkman was banned for life in the PBA and fined P250,000.
Salud has a point. But was the penalty too harsh? Wouldn’t a two- or three-game suspension with an even larger cash penalty been more appropriate?
It depends who you ask.
One group is surely unhappy: San Miguel Corporation, who owns three of the PBA’s 10 teams (Petron, San Mig Coffee Mixers and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel). In an official statement, San Miguel said they’ll “re-evaluate” their participation with Asia’s oldest basketball league. Ouch. Scary.
For me? Salud did the right thing. As much as Lent is about forgiveness, he meted the right penalty.
Attacking referees and one’s own coaches and teammates is not only crazy -- it’s intolerable. This person deserves to be introduced to Dana White and the UFC.
Salud, in his decision, wanted to set an example for all players -- present and future. Physical contact (including choking one’s teammate!) is inexcusable.
“I do encourage passion for the game but I also want to firmly instill a culture of accountability among our players,” Salud explained. “If one does something that violates the rules and the norms of sportsmanship and decent behavior, he will be made accountable. The value of accountability is important for me to uphold at all times. I think it is key to this league’s continued success, the development of our players’ maturity and to their role as models to our fans, especially the youth.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2013.