Villaflor: Parent problems and a bloody brawl

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Monday, March 17, 2014


I WAS supposed to watch my daughter play in the Aboitiz Cup last Sunday, but a bad case of the flu meant I had to stay put. Upon her return, she told me about a brawl between the Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu and Alcoy FC.

The details were a bit sketchy, as she and her teammates watched the incident from a distance. And since free-for-alls do happen in heated matches even among younger players once in a while, I didn’t think much about the incident.

When I flipped through the Sun.Star Cebu Sports pages first thing yesterday morning, I was taken aback upon seeing the colored photograph that splashed half of Page A27: it showed the brawl among minors with two adults joining the picture.

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FISTS. In the photo snapped by Sun.Star Cebu photographer Allan Cuizon, an Ateneo player was pinned down by the Alcoy goalkeeper who was going for a headlock with his right hand and pressing his opponent’s head to the ground with the other.

The Ateneo player had one fist planted on the cheek of the goalkeeper, who was oblivious of the man—identified as a parent—who was about to strike him from behind.

The man, wearing shades, a gray shirt, and shorts, was gripping what seemed like a dark, blunt object with his raised fist.

In the foreground, a man with a black sleeveless shirt was running towards the three.

Behind them were several Ateneo and Alcoy players in the middle of a commotion. The man in a sleeveless shirt, it turned out, merely stepped in to diffuse tensions.

MORE FOTOS. Yesterday’s published image was troubling. The succeeding series of images that see print in today’s issue on Page A4 is shocking.

Yesterday, I joined reporters, editors and photographers in taking a closer look at the images in the newsroom.

Several showed the bloodied head of the goalkeeper, while another showed the man wearing shades poised to strike the man in the sleeveless shirt. But most disturbing of all was the photo that suggested the attacker was holding a switchblade.

Succeeding photos, though, showed that the man in a sleeveless shirt was not attacked and, in fact, managed to calm things down.

MINDLESS. It escapes me how these so-called adults can just mindlessly join the fray involving the young.

A match official who was preparing for the next game told me what transpired: after seeing the Ateneo player getting beat up by the goalie, a parent – the man wearing shades – rushed in “to rescue the hapless Ateneo player.”

“Nanulod uban parents sa Ateneo. Ila gigukod ang nanumbag na Alcoy supporter,” the match official said, referring to a non-player who had joined the commotion earlier, punching other Ateneo footballers in another part of the field.

According to today’s report on Page A4, the Alcoy players snapped after parents from private schools allegedly taunted them, saying they had no business playing in the tournament as they were “taga bukid” (from the mountains).

SOBRIETY, NOT ARROGANCE. Whether match officials are liable for failing to control the game that ended in the free-for-all is for the tournament organizers to investigate.

However, there is just no place for such alleged arrogance, this feeling of superiority, in football. And even if there’s no truth to these allegations, those spectators – whether they were parents, relatives or supporters – being adults, ought to have called for sobriety at the sight of young players beating each other up, and not have stoked the flames.

Instead, the parents handed down their brand of street justice. As a result, a player ends up with a bloodied skull, while the alleged assailant, a parent, could face serious legal problems for attacking a minor.

SOMETHING’S WRONG. Is belligerence becoming the norm among a certain “class” of adult spectators nowadays?

As one observer puts it, “Something is wrong with the way these parents see sports.”

Being a parent who has a child who plays competitive football, I now worry and feel a certain unease.

I wonder what would make these quarrelsome “parents” see the error of their ways. If not the pictures of young bloodied footballers, I don’t know what will.

(nsvillaflor@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 18, 2014.

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