Unity for PBA fans

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The discord remains in the PBA as the Board of Governors continues to be split on how to deal with the tenure of commissioner Chito Narvasa. But in the spirit of unity, the Board got together to announce the other day that no matter what, the 43rd season of the country’s top sports entertainment show will open at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

Every franchise was represented in the press conference at the Golden Ballroom of the Okada Manila to disclose the details of the opening. TNT KaTropa governor Ricky Vargas and Meralco governor Al Panlilio couldn’t make it as they were out of the country on business. TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere filled in for Vargas while Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio came for Panlilio. Every governor, including Membrere and Gregorio, showed up in handsome, uniform Barong Tagalogs, a sign of family getting together for a major occasion.

The show of togetherness was a positive step towards finding the inevitable solution to the impasse where five governors are on Narvasa’s side and seven aren’t. The path to solving the problem is tricky because the PBA’s By-Laws aren’t clear on how to deal with this situation. It got to a point where someone suggested to bring in an arbitrator to settle the dispute.

Under the terms of the 2010 By-Laws, a 2/3 vote from the Board is required to expel the commissioner and a similar 2/3 vote is needed to appoint one. It is silent on the matter of a renewal or extension of an existing contract. Under the terms of the 2015 By-Laws, the positions of chief executive officer and chief operating officer were given a tenure of one year with the Board’s option to renew. The intention was for Chito Salud, then commissioner, to act as CEO and Narvasa as COO but the plan was scuttled to retain the commissioner as the man in charge. Salud eventually resigned and Narvasa was designated commissioner.

In Narvasa’s case, he has an existing contract. To expel him, a 2/3 vote is necessary. If expulsion is the intention of the seven governors against Narvasa, then they are one short of a 2/3 vote under the terms of the 2010 By-Laws. As for Narvasa’s renewal, there is no provision for a vote and that’s why the impasse has dragged on for over a month.

If there is a lesson to be learned from this unhappy experience, it’s that the PBA Constitution and By-Laws must be revisited at once to avoid varying interpretations because of unclear provisions. If the provisions were clear in the first place, the disagreement could’ve been settled immediately according to the By-Laws.

The display of unity in Okada augurs well for the future. It appears a solution is in sight. Obviously, there will be some kind of sacrifice to be made, a compromise to be agreed on to resolve the issue. Feelings were hurt and harsh words exchanged. Sensitivities were disturbed. Ruffled feathers must be unruffled. Handshakes must be made. If there is to be forgiveness, there has to be an apology. Life is too short to bear grudges. Everyone in the Board and in the PBA’s management team is a professional with a heart for sports. What brought about the PBA was a love for the game. The PBA was created to give the fans what they want, a showcase for the sport that is a passion or even a religion for millions of Filipinos.

On Sunday, the new season will begin. Defending champion San Miguel Beer takes on Phoenix in the only game set at the Big Dome. Then, doubleheaders will unravel starting next Wednesday at the Filoil Flying V Arena as Kia faces NLEX and Magnolia battles Alaska. On Dec. 22, the venue shifts to the Cuneta Astrodome with Blackwater confronting Meralco and Rain Or Shine meeting TNT KaTropa. On Christmas Day, GlobalPort and NLEX will start hostilities before Barangay Ginebra makes its season debut against Magnolia in another edition of the Manila Clasico at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue.

The Smart Araneta Coliseum will once more host on Dec. 17 with Phoenix tackling Kia and Meralco engaging San Miguel. The year will end with Blackwater facing Rain Or Shine and TNT KaTropa meeting Alaska at the Cuneta Astrodome. So it’s business as usual in the PBA and fans can’t wait to storm the starting gates. As the Board said, the PBA is for the fans and it’s for them that they’re committed to put an end to the leadership crisis.

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