Limpag: Slaughter and PBA power relations

Mike T. Limpag

I REALLY don’t follow the PBA that much but you have to be living under the rock not to know the unfortunate case of former Cebu collegiate star Gregory Slaughter, who announced he would take a sabbatical from the league.

A couple of developments over the past few weeks had me shaking my head. One was when I learned that even if his contract has expired, under PBA rules, Ginebra retains his rights (then what the hell is a contract for if that’s the case?) and two, when Alfranchis Chua said nonchalantly that it’s normal business practice for players with expiring contract to touch base with him to know whether there’s a contract on the line.

I know the PBA was just an old boys’ club but I didn’t know that they were this powerful. I mean, that’s like a teacher telling his class, “Those who are failing, please see me after class.” We know how some of that end, right?

Power relations and class conflict were some of my favorite subjects in college and this one is a classic example of someone in power making sure the status quo is maintained.

It maybe normal practice for Chua to have players with expiring contracts to pay homage to him, but in normal business practice, anyone who’s gone through a probationary status will know in the fifth month of his six-month trial phase, if he’s unlucky, whether he’d be promoted to regular status. I say unlucky because if the worker truly deserves it and if the boss values him and is basically nice, as early as a month or two into the probationary period, he’d tell the worker,”Keep doing what you’re doing, you’d be regularized.”

What Chua’s statement on Slaughter implied was this, “We don’t want you around and bohoo we still hold your rights. So either play our game or get out of the game.”

Slaughter’s sabbatical shows he won’t play that game. Unfortunately, we are not that litigious a nation and in the PBA, the players--no matter how big their statuses are--really are at the mercy of the real guys in power. Had this happened in other nations, this would have gone to the courts. I remember the Bosman ruling changed the landscape of world club football and that’s because one player dared to challenge the status quo.

In a nutshell, pre-Bosman ruling, leagues were limited clubs to three non-citizens and post-Bosman ruling that limit was removed. The NBA, too, went to two lockdowns because the players asserted their rights.

Fat chance of that happening in the PBA where players are required to kowtow to the big bosses if their contracts are expiring. Though I’ve heard there’s a players association in the PBA, I don’t think the group holds much power or authority. Until now, Calvin Albueva remains banned a situation that solid and working players association could have overturned.

I guess, it’s understandable. If your livelihood is at the mercy of those who hold the fat wallets, you won’t dare go against the status quo. Slaughter, born to US-based Pinoy, is a bit fortunate as his financial security isn’t tied to a stint in the PBA.

That’s why his sabbatical is disrupting power relations in the league.