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49 years and counting

October 20, 2021 Ed Andaya 658 views

AndayaTHERE is never a dull moment when writing about sports. Today was always different from yesterday and tomorrow refreshingly different from today.

— Red Smith

THE late great American sportswriter Red Smith summed it all up when asked about life as a sportswriter.

To me, there is no more interesting and important job in the world than being a sportswriter.

And being a sportswriter myself, it’s only natural I’d think so.

This is my 34th year as a sportswriter for this widely-read newspaper of the Philippine Journalists, Inc. (PJI), which took a gamble on me even when I was still the greenest of greenhorns on March 1, 1987.

In fact, it should be 36 years, if I add the two years when I actually started doing special coverages and writing sports stories as a contributor for the People’s Journal under Chito Manuel and the defunct Times Journal under the late Eking Gonzales back in the summer of 1985.

Thirty six years — or even 34 — maybe a long time to some, but to me it’s not.

You see, I always liked the idea of being loyal.

For years, I keep my money in the same bank, dine in the same restaurant and drink and listen to good and relaxing music in the same sports bar. I even sleep with the same woman — my wife — for 33 long years now.

And to this day, I still work and write for the same publication which plucked me straight out of the corridors of the Lyceum of the Philippines to join its already star-studded line-up.

Of course, this great ride of mine sometimes turn a little bumpy, scary even.

Sportswriting, after all, is not easy. It isn’t like mathematics where what you’ve put down is either right or wrong. No sportswriter ever puts down anything on paper that he knows for certain is good or bad.

But even if sportswriting is difficult, it’s also one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world.

Before attending high school at E.

Rodriguez in Quezon City, I already knew what I wanted to be when I grow up. I wanted to be a sportswriter. I wish I was a better one but I enjoy being the one I am.

So even if they put the lights out, turn the air-conditioning off and finally call it a night, I’ll probably be writing still.

Congratulations to the Journal Group of Publications, publishers of People’s Journal, People’s Tonight and Women’s Journal, on our 49th year on October 21.

* * *

And while we’re still thinking about it, allow me to look back and share the five most memorable sports coverages I had in my 36 happy years.

— The 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia. Also known as the World University Games, the multi-sports event for student-athletes holds so many beautiful memories to me but none more important than GM Wesley So’s historic gold medal in chess — the first for the country.

It was also the last time that So represented the Philippines before he migrated to the United States for reasons the entire chess universe know by now.

— The 2009 NBA Finals between Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

If you’re a big fan of the Black Mamba and the Purple and Gold, the opportunity to cover the games live at the Staples Center and watch Kobe up close and personal is simply too irresistible. Sorry but who cares about the time-tested principle in sportswriting that “No Cheering the Press Box.”

— The 2008 World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany with GM Wesley So, National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Cong. Butch Pichay, the late NCFP executive director Willie Abalos and sportswriting legend Ernie Gonzales of the Philippine Inquirer joining me for daily walk through snow-covered streets in the beautiful German city of Dresden a few weeks before Christmas.

We’ re pretty as a postcard.

— The 2003 World Youth Chess Championships in Halkidiki, Greece where super GM Wesley So represented the country for the first time in international competitions. So was barely 10 years old and in the words of the late FIDE president Florencio Campomanes, “still a diamond in the rough”.

The Gods of Mt. Olympus must be smiling for the duration of my three-week coverage.

— 1999 PICAA “Tour of China” basketball exhibition games with close friends Graham Lim, Freddie Jalasco, Christian Tan, Eric Miranda, Johny Tam and former Journal chief of photographers Joseph Valenciano.

It was one, if not the longest, sports coverages that one can ever have, but it was also very meangful.

As majestic as the “Great Wall of China”.

Given the chance, I hope to go back to Russia, US, Germany, Greece and China and relive my sportswriter’s dream come true.

Lastly, a big shoutout to my Journal Group boss and ninong, Gus Villanueva, who is expertly calling the shots for all our three publications for as long as one can remember.

For comments and suggestions, e-mail to [email protected]

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