SACRAMENTO—Talk about dominating the sports news cycle.
Business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan is no publicity seeker. But by titillating sports reporters and junkies alike recently, he guaranteed himself of an almost round-the-clock sports coverage without really trying.
Known in sports circles as MVP for his initials and for a track record as the country’s most valuable patron for sports, Pangilinan inserted himself into a significant event. He vacillated between running and not running for the presidency of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for the longest time.
Manila’s major daily newspapers I monitor without fail went to town plotting the mogul’s every move in the morning. I was told that sports talk radio dissected his thinking during the day and the networks wrapped it all up on the evening news.
It all started when MVP’s supporters anchored his possible run for the POC presidency to rescue local sports from mediocrity on a simple premise:
That a sizable number of national sports association leaders have had enough of current and reelectionist Olympic chief Jose Cojuangco Jr., they would break away for the telecom magnate if only to try something new at the POC.
MVP, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and benefactor to six more NSAs, was coasting on that wave of enthusiasm. Why a visionary like him chose not to build upon that clamor and challenge Cojuangco is befuddling, to say the least.
His eventual decision effectively broke the traditional news cycle, although the discussion that followed opened a lane for Facebook and Twitter traffic on the Internet.
It won’t be surprising at all if even at this point, the story of MVP’s abortive candidacy is kept alive around the office water fountain and by social media addicts who relish sharing it, twisting it and reacting to it.
So what really happened?
Did the fire wall that Cojuangco built by announcing his full slate of candidates just as the deadline for filing neared appear unbreakable? Did it foretell of a slugfest at the POC elections on Nov. 30 with President Noynoy Aquino’s uncle?
After navigating a minefield of office politics in the NSAs during a so-called “unity dinner” with their leaders, did Pangilinan sense a wobbly candidacy in the making?
Did the fate of a kabalen, Arthur Macapagal, four years ago figure in MVP’s decision?
Art, half-brother of ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo thought he had the magic number of votes in the bag against Cojuangco in 2008, only to suffer betrayal at the polls.
Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists are on a feeding frenzy out there. I am quite certain they have a weird take on Pangilinan’s judgment call, but I won’t dare ask.
An MVP sports lieutenant said the boss was “truthful” in his statement. “It’s really difficult for him to attend to the POC at this time,” the aide said. “He was just pressured into considering (running) by the so-called clamor, but eventually decided it wasn’t feasible… I assure you that was it.”
The aide said that at the unity dinner, some attendees attempted to switch the course of the campaign against Cojuangco.
They asked amateur boxing president Ricky Vargas to run in Pangilinan’s place.
“Pero talagang ayaw ni Ricky. (Ricky was not keen on running at all).”