In the United States, I followed 4 sports. They were baseball, hockey, basketball and American style football. Becoming an expat in the Philippines has impacted my enjoyment of all 4 to different degrees.
With regard to baseball, I was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. From birth to 2015 (the year before I moved to the Philippines), the Cubs were never champions. Of course, in 2016 they finally became champs, and I was living on the other side of the planet. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. At least most of the playoff games were broadcast here in the Philippines. During the regular season, there appears to be one game a day being broadcast where I live. For some reason, there are 2 teams which seem to get over 50% of the broadcasts, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. I sort of get why the historical Yankees are often the team of choice but have no guesses as to why the Red Sox games are so often shown.
If you love hockey, to the best of my knowledge you are pretty much out of luck. I don’t recall seeing a single hockey game since coming to the Philippines. I guess it makes sense. Why would a nation without a season called ‘winter’ be interested in a winter sport?
The good news is that the NBA (basketball) is very popular in the Philippines. NBA games are often broadcast. Historical games are also rerun. If you are in the mood to see Larry Bird or Michael Jordan again, you might be in luck. Why is basketball so popular? My theory is simple. The physical space needed to play basketball is small when compared to baseball, soccer (European football), and American football. Flat land is required for all these sports and much of the Philippines is not very flat. When you look at most islands, the ground is flat near the ocean but quickly becomes mountainous as you travel inward. Flat land large enough for a baseball field is not so easy to find, so Filipino’s mostly grow up playing basketball. Additionally, basketball is an inexpensive sport. Once you have a basketball court, all you need is a ball. Proper footwear (Nike, Adidas,…..) is optional and beyond the budget of most boys, I watch compete in my province. They are perfectly content in flip-flops.
Before coming to live in the Philippines, I enjoyed watching American pro football (the NFL). I wasn’t an avid fan, but I rooted for my team most weekends and enjoyed an occasional Monday night game. As a boy, I can fondly recall watching a 19” black and white TV with my Dad, cheering for Gayle Sayers and Dick Butkus. I had to give up watching football in the Philippines as it’s not available through my Philippine satellite cable provider. I knew this would be one of the sacrifices I would be making when becoming an expat, and I wondered how much I would miss the game. As it turned out, I missed it a little when the season started, and occasionally checked the scores using the internet. In December my wife and I went back to the USA for a few weeks, and it happened to coincide with the NFL playoffs. My interest was rekindled, but not quite to its previous level. Being away from the game for several months had diminished its importance to me. It’s surprising that something I had followed fairly closely since being a boy now just didn’t seem that important.
I had planned that the above paragraph would be the end of this article, but recent events in the USA with regard to the NFL (football) have altered my remaining interest in the game. Today, I have no interest in following the game due to the conduct of some players and management. I no longer check scores and have no idea of the standings. Instead, I check the NFL TV ratings each week and cheer when they decline, which seems to be happening quite often.