Going Through Changes

The saying “change is the only constant thing in the world” is very true in the world of journalism.

Information dissemination is the primary aim of the profession. At this age, when information is fast and abundant, changes in journalism happen rapidly. Gone are the days when the public hear the news 24 hours after it happened. Now, it might even be surprising to hear about something 24 minutes after it happened. It seems too long a gap.

The trend nowadays is moving towards online journalism (OJ). I agree with what Paul Bradshaw said“Employers will be (and are) frustrated at graduates who can spot a story in a press release but not a tweet, forum thread, or dataset; at those who can write a 300 word print piece but cannot adapt their style for the latest web platform; who will buy one source a drink but not invest the same time in building trust with dozens on social networks.”

He is emphasizing OJ’s role in the journ world. With lots of information available on Twitter and other networking sites, stories are bound to be found in these sources. Having no nose for news in these places puts one at a disadvantage.

Which brings one of Jeff Jarvis’ points to the picture: he wants journalism education to be taught online to professionals “who obviously need to learn new skills as the industry convulses around them”. For me, it is a little bit too idealistic, but necessary nonetheless.

By educating journalists about the online methods, which are more effective as it can show pictures and videos along with the news article, journalists may disrupt the industry, in a good way of course, as Jarvis said.

Change is the only constant thing in the world. And as the information age is rapidly growing, journalism must catch up, and the only way to catch up is through change.

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Pacquiao Robbed of Deserved Win

It’s a bit too late to write about Manny Pacquiao’s fight. But I will, anyway.

It was a robbery! (Do I still need to narrate what happened?)

Look,  I don’t mind Pacquiao losing. He lost his last fight versus Marquez. That was clear. But the judges gave him the victory, anyway. This despite being CLEARLY outworked by Marquez. That was a gift to Pacquiao.

I watched both fights here in the basketball court near our house. Before the final bell rang, one gets to feel the expected outcome of the public. In the Marquez fight, the area gave off a “Talo si Pacquiao” vibe. In his latest fight, the opposite was felt. The pulse of the people said Pacquiao won. Based on what I saw, Pacquiao won, though not definitively (that’s another topic altogether).

But the people don’t call the shots. If the results of boxing bouts were a government, it would be an oligarchy, with three judges controlling the results. No, it’s not a democracy. The watching masses have no say whatsoever on the result. They just have to accept it.

And since they call the shots, they judge based on what they see, in the same way as the viewers judge based on what they see and what they feel.

The problem is we don’t see the same thing. Judges sit in one place. They see the action from one angle and one angle alone for every second of the 36 minutes Pac and Bradley fought.

Not so for us. We have the luxury of seeing the fight from multiple angles and variable camera heights. We have the benefit of instant replays, slow-mo footages, and highlights. We have the upper-hand in audio because, while they can hear the crowd clearer, they don’t have commentators who give their view on what is happening in the ring.

I don’t exactly know what boxing’s standards are for a fighter to win a round, but in the UFC, the 10-point must scoring system is based on “effective striking, effective grappling, aggression, and octagon control”. When I watch a boxing match, I look mainly at effective striking and aggression. Pacquiao, I thought, wasn’t as aggressive as Bradley. The way I saw it, Bradley was starting most of the exchanges (take note on the emphasis at starting), but doesn’t follow through with it. In terms of aggression, I thought Bradley won the fight.

While he was aggressive, he wasn’t very effective with striking. In the end, Pacquiao ended up the better boxer: rounds ended with him winning the exchanges. These melees happen because Bradley was attacking Manny, but Manny’s defensive prowess shined as the American’s offense connected less than the Filipino’s defense did.

Based on these criteria, I gave to Bradley the rounds where Pacquiao did not land clean, crisp, head shots. I don’t think there were more than four or five of these rounds at the most. Pacquiao clearly won. It was a robbery.

Then again, I had the help of instant replay at the end of rounds. Also the commentary from Mario Lopez and friend.

In defense of the judges, maybe they saw something which we pay-per-viewers didn’t see. Maybe from down there, Bradley won. Maybe the judges were Americans and wouldn’t let an Asian beat them in boxing, the way they Asians are beating Americans in many areas. Maybe they were paid. Maybe the fight was fixed.

Whatever they saw, hmm, I can’t find the right words. I can just shake my head in disappointment.

Just like in a trial, where one is innocent until proven guilty, same goes in boxing. One must take, grab, seize the belt from the champion, not wait for the belt to be given to him. The challenger must be definitively, doubtlessly better than the champion. Today, Timothy Bradley fought better than most of Pacquiao’s previous opponents. But he did not do enough to win the belt. And that, for me, is what makes this split decision an absolutely horrendous decision.

A boxing robbery at its highest form.

The Perfect Hue

The UP Journalism Club’s executive board had a meeting today in our president’s condominium. Around 5 or 6 am, all the other officers were  (un)comfortably and soundly asleep, snoring, breathing slowly and steadily. All the while, I was sitting on the computer chair, trying to sleep and failing to sleep. I started my attempts when it was still dark. I stopped trying and started writing this when I looked out the window and saw the sun’s rays already beaming from behind the far mountains.

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The Perfect Hue

Orange and blue
A perfect hue
The morning sky
Just like you

Purity of blue
Clean as new
Untainted, unblemshed
Just like you

The orange so bright
So strong but not quite
Simple, but not so
Just like I

Put them together
Orange and blue
Fits like a glove
A Perfect hue

I’m the orange
You’re the blue
Let’s put us together
Me and you

Why The San Antonio Spurs Are Boring

There are two words used to describe the San Antonio Spurs the past few (or many?) years: old and boring.

These two words are also the words experts and analysts say the Spurs are not.

Old? Well, Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are old, maybe even Stephen Jackson. But the rest are young guys.

They say if you find the Spurs boring, you don’t appreciate the fundamentals of basketball, which is what the Spurs play with: fundamentals. That’s the reason one of Tim Duncan’s nicknames is The Big Fundamental. He uses basic low post moves. But he has become such a master at them that he is so hard to stop.

I’ve been watching the Spurs almost every time they’re in the Playoffs, usually going up against the team I root for (most notably the Phoenix Suns in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010; and the Oklahoma City Thunder this year). I appreciate their craft, especially this year when they are one of the top scoring teams in the league while also playing quick. But still, when I watch their home games, I get bored.

Why, you ask? The hint lies there in the last sentence I wrote.

It’s their home court. The basketball court of AT&T Center in San Antonio is composed of two colors: black and wood brown. The Spurs logo, with only black, white, and silver, lies in center court. The paint area is black, as well as the sidelines. The lighting of the audience sections are not so bright. Combine a not-so-bright lighting with a bland, dark-themed court, plus a TV network to broadcast the game.

Dreariness.

Compare that with Oklahoma City’s skyblue court, or Miami’s fastfood-colored court, or Boston’s green, Chicago’s red, Philadelphia’s red, white, and blue. Almost all teams have courts which are pleasing to the eyes. Memphis’ homecourt also has a dark color to it (deep ocean blue? navy blue? I don’t know what to call it), but their brand of basketball is more casual-fan-friendly than the Spurs’. Also, the Grizzlies’ logo is more striking than the Spurs’.

What does TV court appearance have to do with anything? How many people watch San Antonio live in a season? Maybe every team’s home crowd plus the San Antonio faithful. What if you’re a New Yorker and San Antonio is playing Phoenix? You turn to your TV and watch them there. And when you tune in, you see black, you see monotone, plus Tim Duncan posting up and the Spurs running a half court play set. No eye candy anywhere: court looks boring, play is slow.

Sometimes, or maybe most of the time, the casual fan will watch San Antonio play not because of the Spurs, but because of who they’re playing (see: Playoffs 2012).

No, I don’t find the Spurs boring. It’s their homecourt that LOOKS boring.

Plus that nasty reputation they’ve built up over the years.

The 2002 West Finals, Game 7: Ending It the Right Way

Ten years. I am now a college student, my brother’s soon to take college entrance tests. I just left my teenage years behind.

Yet images from the legendary seven-game Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals in 2002 still remain fresh in my mind, as fresh as the wounds which were reopened by watching part 6 of “The Greatest Tragedy In Sports” series on YouTube.

The next week or so will mark the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest playoff series of the new millennium.

It was the series which I really tuned in to from wire to wire of every game, from the opening tip to the final buzzer; from the broadcasts opening billboard to the network’s “All rights reserved…” display on the TV. I fondly remember one game in the series which was scheduled to air on ESPN Asia at 8 am Manila time. I had a dream, and in that dream, the clock showed 8:00 am and I was still in bed. When it ticked one more minute, it was already 8:01 and I was still in bed. I panicked that I might miss the game. “Oh no!” I thought.  I bolted up from my bed and checked the time. It was not even 7 am yet.

I was that engrossed with that playoff series it permeated my dreams.

So here’s a series of entries to commemorate each game from Game 4 to Game 7, the most dramatic games of the series.

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Game 7, June 3, 2002 (Manila time)

Like the previous three contests, Game 7 was a nail-biter. In fact, it went into overtime. The Lakers pulled off the win 112-106. I remember seeing this game and thinking, “Wow, the Kings are missing a lot of free throws.”

The entire time I was seeing free throw after free throw clang, go in and out, short, long, I attributed this to nerves. Maybe they were nervous, since they were facing the defending champions who are seeking a three-peat, yet here are the young Sacramento Kings, having their first taste of Conference Finals action with an entire city on their backs.

Oh, get a win here and the confetti will start to fall, the crowd will be storming the court in joyful celebration. The Sacramento Kings will be on their way to the NBA Finals to face a much weaker New Jersey Nets team.

The sold-out Arco Arena seemed like a pressure cooker.

Besides Vlade Divac, no one has been in a game as important as this in their NBA careers. Not even Mike Bibby, their best player, who came from a mediocre Vancouver Grizzlies team in a trade for showman Jason Williams.

“These missed free throws may come back and bite them in the ass later on.” (Yes, I already had an NBA-analyzing mind when I was 10.)

It did. They only hit 16 out of 30 from the foul line. They lost the game by six. Thinking about it, the Kings might have won if they hit just half of what they missed. The Lakers won that game to become the first team in 20 years to win a conference final on the road.

Disappointed. (AP Photo)

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At that time, with the series over, I thought I just watched a regular playoff series; a series which would be forgotten and never considered a classic. Fast forward to today. I still remember images from the games. I still remember how I felt watching those games. I still remember the plays which made this matchup the series of that year and of the past decade.

Scour the internet and search for a “best playoff series since 2000” list. Believe me, this series would always appear, along with Lakers-Blazers 2000, Suns-Lakers 2006, and Cavs-Pistons 2007 (the last two at least in my personal list).

This series welcomed me officially to the NBA. For over half my life, I’ve been watching, celebrating, enjoying, getting pissed off, screaming at the (TV) referees, clapping, cheering, and analyzing. Life is good with it, and unimaginable without it.

I’m looking forward to decades more, when I would have my own Larry Birds, Magic Johnsons, Michael Jordans, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbars, new playoff heroes for my generation.

The 2002 West Finals 10-year Anniversary, Game 6: Controversy

Ten years. I am now a college student, my brother’s soon to take college entrance tests. I just left my teenage years behind.

Yet images from the legendary seven-game Sacramento Kings-Los Angeles Lakers Western Conference Finals in 2002 still remain fresh in my mind, as fresh as the wounds which were reopened by watching part 6 of “The Greatest Tragedy In Sports” series on YouTube.

The next week or so will mark the 10-year anniversary of perhaps the greatest playoff series of the new millennium.

It was the series which I really tuned in to from wire to wire of every game, from the opening tip to the final buzzer; from the broadcasts opening billboard to the network’s “All rights reserved…” display on the TV. I fondly remember one game in the series which was scheduled to air on ESPN Asia at 8 am Manila time. I had a dream, and in that dream, the clock showed 8:00 am and I was still in bed. When it ticked one more minute, it was already 8:01 and I was still in bed. I panicked that I might miss the game. “Oh no!” I thought.  I bolted up from my bed and checked the time. It was not even 7 am yet.

I was that engrossed with that playoff series it permeated my dreams.

So here’s a series of entries to commemorate each game from Game 4 to Game 7, the most dramatic games of the series.

**********

Game 6, June 1, 2002 (Manila time)

Game 6 is an infamous game marred by controversy. Many believe the game to be fixed in favor of the Lakers. And as I watched it again now that I’m more mature and knowledgeable, I agree. I am a Kings fan, sure, but the calls in this game, especially in the fourth quarter, were atrocious. Blatantly disrespectful. In one sequence, Vlade Divac came up with the loose ball, Shaq bumped him from behind, Divac fell and had to call timeout. No foul called, timeout wasted. In another, I’m not sure if it was Divac or Scot Pollard guarding Shaq, but the defender barely touched Shaq’s forearm with his thumb and got whistled for a foul.

The Lakers attempted 27 free throws IN THE FOURTH QUARTER ALONE, compared to the Kings’ nine. Pollard and Divac fouled out. Star power forward Chris Webber almost fouled out. Heck, the Kings had to use Lawrence Funderburke to guard Shaq.

For the Lakers? The only guy in foul trouble was Derek Fisher, who finished the game with five fouls.

Even the commentators for that game were questioning the officials’ calls. Kings coach Rick Adelman always had that “Oh come on you’ve gotta be kidding me” look on his face. So was Vlade.

The image below sums up the game. A ref has a clear view of the elbow thrown. The cameras showed him with his head turned towards Bibby and Bryant, yet he was indifferent to the blow delivered. He continued counting to five for the inbounder. It resulted to a shaken up Mike Bibby with a bleeding nose, forcing the Kings to use their final timeout to have Bibby treated.

An elbow to the nose doesn’t get called for a foul. A thumb to the forearm does.

Not seen in this image is a referee (Bob Delaney, I think), which would’ve been in the lower right corner of the image, with a direct, clear view of this elbow from Kobe.

The Lakers won the game 106-102. They only managed a four-point win even though they were playing 8-on-5 basketball (the Laker 5 plus the three referees). Who knows what Sacramento could have done had they had that final timeout? They could have set up a play and advanced the ball past halfcourt. Hmm.

The Kings were up 3-2 heading into Game 6, and this game belonged to them. They should’ve won the series and the championship that year.

It was only many years later when the Tim Donaghy scandal broke that this game became one of the focal points of the issue.