THE DAY PBA CAGERS SHOWED UP
It is not a simple day when a group of respected athletes, gods of coliseum, legends in their own rights like PBA greats would materialize one sleepy afternoon in one government office. But it happened. It is not just one cager but the entire team. If it is not a sports reunion of sort then it must be something else. And it was indeed something else. These PBA legends, whatever their purpose, chose to play with inmates in the maximum security wing of the national penitentiary.
For quite a while, the simmering heat, the congestion and security frustration brought forth a number of troubles and pocket distress. The prison community was on the verge of exploding out of frustration. One day they were enjoying peace of mind, in another feeling suspected for sabotaging peace. There was an air of grief and misery. This could lead to a bigger worry ahead for prison administration. Law enforcement is enforced within the corrective domain and it breeds confusion not only in the ranks of prisoners but also a dilemma among prison officers. The field is prepared if not ripe for a possible confrontation.
And then it happened. A team of PBA outstanding cagers decided to challenge prisoners to a basketball game within the compound where prisoners were about to stage their collective frustration. There were pissed off expression from a throng watching intently how another group would move towards their direction. Frustration was also eked out in sun drenched complexion of a number of inmates waiting in the sidelines.
Security personnel were cautious because at any given instance, a simple hostility might explode into a camp wide conflagration. As the sound of the referees whistle signaled the toss up, the PBA legends began to work out. Inmate challengers were up in their respective formation in the court. It would be a friendly competition and a highly entertaining medium for prisoners to watch live and in person those giants their generation had continually followed on boob tube. Now it is for real and it is within their reach.
Anyone can call sports as an aimless pursuit only the physically fit and endowed could muster but so what. It has become a significant part of one’s being, a template for action, a pattern for response, a configuration of personal posturing. It is a stage on one’s adventurous period, an occasion for adulation, an instance of appreciation for what is exemplary. Sports teaches the value of discipline, hard work and audacity. It is the basic weaponry against adversity, against the elements that make man miserable. It teaches courage, the raw and matured kind.
In prison, as the PBA great athletes played, they showed grace under pressure, patience, pondering and humor. These are lessons imparted in a few minutes of shooting, running and jumping. But what a lesson shared. It is almost equivalent to a semester of indulging management. And it cost a towel of perspiration only, more economical than a tranche of people’s money spent for a year of lip service on so called reformation.
In other words, in prison, sports create peace.