Chris Tiu: On his own terms
It’s never easy to say farewell to a passion, especially one you’ve engaged in almost your entire life.
When popular Rain or Shine guard Chris Tiu recently announced the end of his professional basketball career, he had his reasons and explained in his blog that he “wanted to channel my current energy and enthusiasm into other projects that are sustainable and have positive impact to the community, some new and some which we started years ago.”
Tiu ended one phase of his life based on his own gut feel and understanding of what kind of future he would like to shape. It’s a well known fact that Tiu has his hands in several business ventures and civic projects and now that he’s free from his hoop commitments, we can expect him to go full throttle with those other passions.
Tiu the basketball player has had a fair share of accomplishments: A UAAP title with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, stints with the national team and an impactful PBA career. Tiu was one player you could not afford to leave open and he could rough it up with the game’s toughest on the defensive end. He was able to match up against his contemporaries and those that were ahead of him in the sport.
Tiu’s story subtly also reminds professional athletes of the limited shelf life of playing careers. Many have been fortunate to still earn a living playing ball even when PBA contracts are not renewed. There are tournaments all around, the formally organized ones and those that are known as larong labas (outside play) or games outside known or sanctioned leagues.
Not everyone has Tiu’s background and preparation for retirement. Many former pros struggle with life outside the hardcourt. Tiu’s journey simply encourages us to brace for life beyond the limelight.
For some, there could be a future business engagement or a coaching stint in schools or in professional hoops. It is never easy facing the end but options do help make the transition bearable.
The end of the road must be determined by the player on his or her own, just as Chris Tiu did. Age, injury, ennui, sports politics or alternative plans can hasten the inevitable but only the athlete is, as the poet William Ernest Henley declares, “the master of (his/her) fate.”