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Sports

Go boldly: My dad, the sports fan

Manny Maceda - Philstar.com
Go boldly: My dad, the sports fan

If my dad were alive today, he probably would have called me up in the final seconds of Game Six of the NBA Finals, when Steph Curry sat on the parquet floor of TD Garden, overcome with emotion as the clock ticked down on the Golden State Warriors’ well-fought victory over the Boston Celtics. He loved to share these moments with me, when the world’s troubles disappeared and all that mattered, for now, was the thrill of a win by his favorite team. It has been six years since he passed away. Several NBA playoffs later, I still expect him to call.

As I reflect on another Father’s Day in the US, it’s a poignant time for me. I’m the father of four children, so it’s a celebration of my favorite role in life—other than being a husband. But it’s also a bittersweet reminder that it was on Father’s Day 2016, when we said goodbye to Ernesto Maceda. He was a father, a grandfather, a friend, and mentor to all. And, boy, was he a sports fan.

He was in law school at Harvard when I was born, and new to the US, so he started out as a Boston Red Sox fan. He probably told me a thousand times about the day he took me to Fenway Park as a five-month-old baby, when the great Carl Yastrzemski hit a home run. He would return to the Philippines for a career in politics before returning to the US on political asylum, where he settled in New York and became a Mets baseball fan. He taught me how to score baseball plays in the stands at Shea Stadium. When he moved back to Manila and I moved to San Francisco, he gradually became a San Francisco Giants and Golden State Warriors fan, adopting my new hometown teams. All of our games together seemed to coincide with a historical milestone. We were together the night in 2002 at Pac Bell Park, when Barry Bonds hit his 600th career home run in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In the big picture, you might ask why do sports matter when the world has more important problems to focus on? But being a sports fan appeals to many elements of the human condition: competing, teaming, talent, strategy, winning, and losing. Most important, it creates a vehicle for communication among family and friends. Sports are an easy topic to build bridges and make connections across great distances and across generations. A phone call or a text from my dad might start with an analysis or complaint of Steph Curry’s shooting performance.

And so it continues. During the NBA finals over the past two weeks as the Warriors won Games Four, Five, and Six, my four kids, my wife, and I were on our family text chain, sharing the excitement as those victories unfolded. I had been at Game Two with three of my kids—Alex, Mike and DJ. Dad would have been proud. A highly accomplished man, he taught me many things. How to navigate the ups and downs of life while always working hard. How to be a father. How to be fair. And, yes, how to know when a ref makes a bad call!

I had some trepidation in those early minutes of Game Six, when it looked like it might end in a Warriors’ defeat, forcing a Game Seven that was scheduled for Father’s Day. It had been just before Game Seven in 2016, a Father’s Day also on June 19, with the Warriors facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game that neither of us would get to see, when they wheeled my Dad into the operating room of a Manila hospital for the last time. He was wearing a Warriors shirt. 

I hope everyone who celebrated had a great Father’s Day, whichever teams you may cheer for.

NBA

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