Marcial looks to calm players’ worries
The same message of hope PBA commissioner Willie Marcial wants the league to bring with its resumption is the same he will sell to his players as he looks to ease their apprehensions about returning to action.
“Since the pandemic started, I have been in communication with the players and they have [expressed reservations about the health situation],” Marcial said in Filipino on Tuesday during an online staging of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum. “That’s why we remind them about the importance of discipline, not just for their families but also for their teammates.”
“I understand their wariness. Even I am wary. We all have fears. But like I always say, when do we make our move? When can we start giving the hope that people have been looking for?”
Marcial reiterated that the league’s aggressive attempts at making a comeback is aimed more at helping build the national morale than stitching up bleeding revenues—the league has been spilling P30 million monthly because of inactivity during the coronavirus pandemic, a figure that doesn’t include the expenses of the 12 teams, which continue to pay full salaries to its players even with the games suspended.
“It’s important that we’re able to play and we can give our fans entertainment and give them hope,” Marcial said via videoconferencing.
Marcial has scheduled a meeting with 24 players—two coming from each team—on June 23 at the league’s offices to ask them how they are and let the discussion roll along to whatever topic. Among those who have been invited are LA Tenorio and Mark Caguioa of Barangay Ginebra, Marc Pingris and Paul Lee of Magnolia, Jason Castro and Troy Rosario of TNT and San Miguel Beer’s Chris Ross, who was vocal with his concerns on resuming play in the midst of a disease that has gripped the country and still has no vaccine.
“I don’t think it’s smart at the moment,” Ross, a two-time Finals most valuable player, told the Inquirer last month. “I don’t understand the rush to play when it’s people’s lives we are talking about.”
“I also want to know what’s on their minds, if they also have ideas which can help the PBA in particular and the community in general,” Marcial said in a separate interview. “We need to listen to every idea out there.”
Marcial won’t have to work too hard to convince players to return to work. An Inquirer survey recently showed that 64 percent of athletes are willing to get back to action even without a vaccine. But as Tenorio also earlier said, it would be best for the league to listen to every dissenting opinion and see what can be done.
The league had submitted a proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases for a reboot to its 45th season, starting with private practices for each team. And if approved, the PBA believes that this could be the signal for other sports to get going again.
“I think we can send the message that since the PBA is here, the situation is getting better.”
Although the league has set an August deadline to decide on the season’s resumption, Marcial sounded confident they can hold one conference.
“I think it’s a seven or eight,” Marcial said when asked of the league’s chances of resuming the season. INQ