Tonight I bought a book called “Pacific Rims,” which is about the Philipppines’ love for the sport of basketball. People never believe me when I saw the national sports of the Philippines are basketball, boxing, and cockfighting. They always think I’m kidding. But it is true, and I’m glad someone with no ties to the country whatsoever picked up on the unusual fanaticism Filipinos have for the sport.
The author, Rafe Bartholomew, who has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, received a Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in the Philippines, study this phenomenon, and write a book about it. I’ve only read the introduction but I like what I’ve read so far and I’m excited to get through the whole thing.
An excerpt from the intro:
“When I explained that I was going to the Philippines to study the country’s devotion to basketball, most of the time the customers’ faces just went blank. The idea that I’d travel from New York, a self-proclaimed mecca of hoops, to Southeast Asia in order to learn something about the sport was usually met by a few seconds of confused silence and then the dubious rejoinder: ‘They play basketball there?’ When I answered, ‘Yes,’ typical follow-up questions ranged from ‘Aren’t they too short?’ to ‘Do they play on ten-foot rims?’ I wanted to feel pissed-off, but even I wasn’t sure that the country’s reputed passion for hoops could live up to the hype. By then, however, it didn’t matter. I was locked in—I’d convinced a panel of academic judges that Philippine hoops was worth studying, received a grant, and bought my plane ticket. And on November 5, 2005, I was flying to Manila to find out for myself if Filipinos did indeed love basketball more than any other people on the planet.”