“Noong panahon namin…”

“Masuwerte nga kayo kasi…”

“Ang aarte niyo!”

At one point in our lives, we have heard these statements uttered by our parents, or someone else older than us. What they mean is: Learn to appreciate what you have and to learn to adjust to whatever life throws at you. While the message is well-meaning the delivery is very problematic.

It’s the year 2020. If we are to compare this year to a meme, it would be that dog inside a burning house saying “This is fine.” Or, if you are familiar with memes “back in the day”, Bad Luck Brian. An invisible enemy has attacked mankind and has affected millions of people. Trivializing someone else’s hardships is not a good idea. 

There is nothing wrong with whatever hardships you have been through. In fact, overcoming hurdles to get to where you are is very admirable. Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to rise above their status and live a better life. But you have to realize that times change and what may have been the norm before is not the norm now. The standard of living is getting higher, and that is a good thing. The minimum requirements in order to be an effective athlete are also getting higher, that too is a good thing. These “maarte” kids know what their worth is as players, nay, as humans. We should be happy that these players have it better than before, that they are given all the support they could need in order to compete, and that the game is much safer for everyone.

What are some of the things done right today, and how do we move forward?

Right now, the game of basketball is starting to be appreciated as the science it is. Gone were the days of bara-bara games where run-and-gun systems and zone defenses all game long would be effective. Training is also improving, where programs are data-driven and specialized to suit each player’s needs. Nutrition is also state-of-the-art, as athletes are now given stricter diet plans that help them maintain top physical condition.

Siomai Rice is delicious. Boiled eggs can be filling. You can’t go wrong with galunggong. But consuming those with no thought in mind will clearly not lead to championship basketball. You can’t beat a five-peat and a Beeracle without proper nutrition.

The game itself is also starting to change for the better too. While it is still a physical game, it is doing away with unnecessary motions that have no place in the basketball court. The clear path foul prevents harm from recklessness, regardless of intention. Hand checks and hip checks are no longer allowed, while undercutting someone merits a heavy punishment. Referees are trained to identify and diffuse unnecessary conflict, making brawls a less common occurrence. While the old generation calls it soft basketball, it’s better to call it safer basketball, basketball that can be enjoyed by all.

At this point, basketball has been the best it’s ever been. The level of competition is higher, the systems are getting more intricate, and taking care of all aspects of an athlete’s physical, nutritional and emotional development has been placed at a premium. Is this privilege? Perhaps it was before, but that is the standard now. If standards are not met, it has to be called out and should be addressed. Of course, we have to bring it to the ones who can make an actual change. This should not be dismissed as arte. It’s knowing the athlete’s worth and that is very important on and off the court.

So what is the point in all this? Like all things the game we love will continue to change as well. How will basketball change amidst all this? Only time will tell. But if all the changes that have happened so far are any indication, it points to a good future, and all it takes is a bit of empathy to recognize this fact.