Panes: Trash and trash talk

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, March 24, 2014

AN UNTOWARD incident occurred in a U-18 football match in Cebu when a melee erupted between adult spectators and players. The matter does not sound strange. It happens. It will happen again. In my lifetime, I have seen many benches emptied and punches traded in the course of contact sports like basketball. NBA’s Ron Artest’s Malice at Palace was by far the most vicious and even financially damaging. I have also seen cooler heads prevail.

Interestingly, this particular incident caught the national media’s fancy. A picture of a punch about to be thrown by an older man on a young player on the ground was so graphic and seemed to say it all. A sustained public uproar will not likely follow. The incident which appears common in the ordinary course of life will be localized and anaesthetized. This corner however deems it necessary to give the matter some attention. Any game should never be as visibly repulsive as the snapshot and a picture is always worth a thousand words.

Brawling in a non-combative sport is an anathema. Unknowingly however, triggers are being pulled every day. Maybe, belittling another’s ability, talent and game has become the norm. The subconscious suggestion of the advertisement to “just do it” has seeped in. The conduct of life has been re-engineered by the world to rear the young to be more powerful, superior and mightier at expense of the rest are less, inferior and indispensable.


Trash talking which is also known as the art of smack. These are actually comments which are said disparagingly, tauntingly, or boastfully especially between opponents trying to intimidate each other. "After the fight, I'm gonna build myself a pretty home and use him as a bearskin rug,” Muhammad Ali declared before fighting Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of the world. “He even smells like a bear. I'm gonna give him to the local zoo after I whup him.” It appears to be a devious strategy to get into the mind of another to disturb focus, upset composure and create fear. At the same time however, the taunt directed against the antagonist could reflect actual contempt for his person.

The use of verbal intimidation and aggression are weapons against the psyche and could be just as bad as physical harm inflicted in the course of a game. The impacts could even be worse to an untrained soul.
The playing field is not always the venue. The grounds are not a pre-requisite. Trash talk has invaded the work place whether between an employee against another employee or an immediate superior against a subordinate. Employees are at the mercy of their arrogant and fault finding superiors.

In so far as athletes are concerned, most instructors trash talk albeit the absence of competition. They are condescending and partial. In classrooms, athletes are treated as second class citizens. Coaches on the other hand are shabbily treated by school administrators for being birds whose feathers cannot be flocked together with them. In their unwritten book of practices, these seemingly insignificant managers designing a team’s success and charting the battle plans are not simply main stream fellows. “You’re just a coach, you know!” Now, that’s trash talk.

The practice of trash talk is actually found everywhere. The voices of aggression and intimidation need not be loud and overt. Can these sounds be delivered silently as with the sounds of silence that is while the victims endure the silence and are silent than silence itself? Why not? The use of words should not exclusively be the criterion. Actions after all speak louder than words. It is enough that the dastardly act pierces the soul such as a cold treatment or discrimination?

Sadly, not all have lips seasoned with grace and salt. An esteemed magistrate taught shared this saying with a grandson: Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Sadly, the wisdom of the sages has become as rare as gold. Perhaps, being old fashioned isn’t a bad idea after all.

Incidentally, can the arbitrary exercise of non-payment of a coaching allowance for months fall within the liberal definition of what a trash talk is? Of these periodic delays, as a coach I once was also inconvenienced, agonized and pained. I’m surprised that the matter hasn’t changed. If really true, this is not merely trash talk my friend. That’s trash treatment.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 25, 2014.


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