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Through the lens: Developing Filipino sports documentaries

In these seemingly perpetual days of quarantine, many of the common sources of entertainment  have been compromised. Travel has been docked to limit transmission of the virus in different communities.

What used to be high-density establishments such as malls, restaurants, offices, parks, and movie theaters are now bound by restrictions on capacity. Even physical activities like going to the gym and participating in recreational contact team sports are discouraged for obvious reasons.

As a result, human nature is leading people to turn to the source of entertainment most convenient for them: technology. In particular, streaming services such as Netflix are drastically capitalizing on the moment, releasing mounds of media for the public to consume. Amid the reams of series and movies available in Netflix’s catalog, documentaries have started to see an upward trend.

Far from live sports, but still sports

Another entertainment powerhouse that has taken a significant hit is professional sports, in which most, if not all leagues, had to take a momentary break from their regular seasons to adjust to this extraordinary period in human history. While leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB have made their comebacks, it is still a transparently compromised product compared to that of old. Still, even in that dystopian timeframe where it seemed as though all sports are absent, sports documentaries have provided a great alternative to remedy that loss.

And one exemplary model of that? The Last Dance—a ten episode docuseries on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls who dominated the NBA in the 90s. Aired on ESPN in the United States and on Netflix for the rest of the world, the series was able to reach millions of viewers, both younger viewers who may just now be watching Jordan’s greatness, and older viewers who have newfound appreciation for His Airness. Even without live sports, the series still managed to solicit debates and discussions—for this instance, the Greatest of All Time talk–that has always made sports so amusing.

With live sports paused, athletes have likewise turned to sports documentaries such as The Last Dance for entertainment. “Although I was already playing my sport competitively before I watched the documentaries, all of it encouraged and inspired me to push myself even more,’’ said DLSU men’s football goalkeeper Mig Brosoto. “I would say that some of these documentaries may have influenced why I continue to play my sport.”

Aside from The Last Dance, Brosoto shared that he has also watched other sports documentaries in the past, including All or Nothing: Manchester City, Match 64: Inside story of the 2010 Final, and The Playbook. “The way the athletes were shown training for their games was really motivating to watch. It really displayed that success in the long run all begins in the preparation itself,” detailed Brosoto, indicating what he liked most about the genre. “How the athletes were able to overcome the challenges in their careers and games was also very motivating and inspiring to see.”

Beyond the perspective 

The UAAP, Philippine Basketball Association, the Super Bowl, Formula 1, and the US Open Tennis Tournament are some of the widely known sports events, and whether you are a huge sports fan or not, it is difficult to avoid the hype and drama around these leagues. Most individuals are curious and intrigued to get a glimpse of the spectacle. Highly anticipated rivalries are always something to look out for when watching a sports tournament. Behind the championships and success that an athlete or team attains, there are many challenges, sacrifices, and disputes far off from the things we see on our screens. 

From the outing and breaking the curse of Korea by Gilas Pilipinas in the 2013 International Basketball Federation Asia Championship to Hidilyn Diaz winning the Olympic Silver Medal in 2016, there is no doubt that the Philippines has great potential to build and create a documentary revolving around the journey an athlete or team treads to achieve their title in their respective league. For DLSU Fencing team captain, Chaleyreene De Guzman, she is wishing for a documentary on Jylyn Nicanor capturing the hearts of many by securing the first-ever gold medal of the Philippines in fencing, on the women’s individual saber event during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA), while Brosoto mentioned that creating a documentary based on our athletes or teams that represented the Philippines in international competitions, such as SEA Games and the Olympics can inspire young  athletes to better hone their skills in their craft. 

During these crucial moments, an athlete engenders their “fight or flight” response in most games, especially in championship matches. With athletes coming from different backgrounds and cultures, it is inevitable that  integrating all these differences into one cohesive and successful unit will be a challenge. Thus, De Guzman additionally seeks for producers to invest in documentaries based on a team, saying “I would enjoy watching how they settle their differences aside to play as a team with the same goal.” At the end of every competition, a team strives for a better outcome of their play. 

Basketball, boxing, and volleyball are three of the most favored sports in the Philippines. With companies capitalizing on these sports, players can be given exposure to showcase their talents in the field. Brosoto also mentioned that producing a sports documentary would help shed light on lesser-known sports, as well as the hardworking athletes involved in it. “The Philippines has so much potential when it comes to different sports and to feature the ones that are not usually in the limelight will increase the nation’s interest, knowledge, and support for the sport and its athletes.”

By Gabriel Minamedez

By Jelie Ann Julia

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