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Why I Will Never #StandWithKiefer

Make no mistake, I’m all for Kiefer Ravena recovering from this doping controversy but the best way to support the PBA rising star is to be neutral
IMAGE Jas Serrano
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Kiefer Ravena’s doping ban issue reminds me of my mother.

I’m not implying my mom’s taken any performance-enhancing drug, and as far as I remember, the only time I saw her compete is in a sack race during family day back in my grade school days.

But what connects her to the latest controversy in Philippine sports is how it brings up the most memorable lesson she taught me: “Kung wala kang masabing maganda, 'wag ka na magsalita.”

With apologies to my mother, I got nothing good to say on Ravena’s 18-month ban from all basketball-related activities, but I’m going to say it anyway. Inappropriate as it may sound, especially since the guy’s been apologetic and took blame for his mess, but I just can’t #StandWithKiefer.

So far, there hasn’t been one “unmerciful” take on Ravena’s latest controversy—the second in almost two years

I have nothing against the PBA rookie, whom I have worked with a few times since his college days in my time working with those things called magazines, up to last year as part of a sports website. Ravena’s always been polite, good-natured, and affable. Even without media spotlight and beyond the basketball court, his peers, colleagues, and coaches describe him as a man of integrity.

I’m not questioning his character. I just find it difficult to accept all the stuff Ravena’s handlers, publicists, and the Gilas Pilipinas guard himself are feeding the public about this case. More importantly, I can’t stand how some famous media personalities are biting, hook, line, and sinker.

I’m no hard-core journalist, but one thing I took to heart in writing about famous personalities is the line from Lester Bangs in the film Almost Famous: “Be honest, and unmerciful.”

So far, there hasn’t been one “unmerciful” take on Ravena’s latest controversy—the second in almost two years, as his detractors would quickly point back to the sexting fiasco in March last year. For a player lauded for his exceptional basketball IQ, he sure fails to apply his smarts off the court.

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“Honest mistake” is what Kiefer calls it. But by definition, an honest mistake is one done without fraud. Ravena, however, did not indicate taking the pre-workout drink that contained the banned substances on his Doping Control Form for the test conducted last February after a Gilas game in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers. It also took his camp over two months to disclose the positive doping test result, with a sudden pullout from PBA All-Star festivities—all acts considered together don’t really come off as deeds done in good faith any way you look at it.

(Reading a prepared statement also made it a bit insincere, to be perfectly, uhm, honest. Another sidenote: Appealing for an exception to the shortened ban by allowing Kiefer to play in the Fiba-sanctioned PBA runs counter to the legal principle, ignorancia juris non excusat.)

Even if you allow the 24-year-old Ravena the benefit of the doubt, the worst part here is to actually #StandwithKiefer with your public posts.

Kiefer’s obviously no baby, but his apologists treat him like one anyway, as his spin doctors pull the classic move of turning the guilty party into the victim 

When a baby falls from the first few attempts at walking, a parent’s instinct is to help pick up the child. But the wise thing to do is to allow the little one to stand up independently. Kiefer’s obviously no baby, but his apologists treat him like one anyway, as his spin doctors pull the classic move of turning the guilty party into the victim using the #StandwithKiefer shenanigans.

The reaction of his camp and the deluge of support are only natural with the nature of social media, with comments and tweets dominated by Ravena’s critics. But his publicists know all too well how to deal with online detractors, which is to let the issue run its course until the trolls find a new issue to feast on. Yet they had social media tiles ready soon as the issue blew up. How conveniently contrived.

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This brings me to another valuable lesson my mother taught me: “Kung wala ka solusyon, 'wag ka magreklamo.” Well, here are some ways, in my unsolicited and unpopular opinion, on how to deal with this mess.

For Kiefer, it takes more than simple admission or steps to take on an anti-doping advocacy. It requires some introspection on how to bring his cerebral approach to the game outside the basketball court. For starters, he should try living by this rule: When in doubt—whether it’s trying an unknown workout drink or sending a dick pic to a person you’ve never met (or sending a dick pic in general)—don’t.

If you’re a media personality, the best thing you can do is to stay neutral.

For the rest of us mortals, we can take any side we deem fit. Laud Kiefer for taking full responsibility for his plight, sure. Watch from afar as Kiefer works his way back up, and applaud him when he does make it back, why not. But for now, whatever you do, for the love of everything sacred, don’t #StandwithKiefer. Or at the very least, support his side but stop spreading this ridiculous appeal-to-pity maneuver.

Omar Belo was formerly the managing editor of sports website Spin.ph. He was also the managing editor of Men's Health Philippines.

The Unpopular Opinion is Esquire’s space to provide additional insight and introduce new perspectives to issues that we may think have foregone conclusions. These articles don't always reflect our editorial stance, but we publish them here to continue the discourse.

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About The Author
Omar Glenn D. Belo
Omar Belo was formerly the managing editor of sports website Spin.ph. Prior to that, he was the managing editor at Men's Health Philippines.
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