In the days of deadlines, boardroom meetings, and events, I sometimes forget that there are many people my age who have chosen a less conventional path, one that has nothing to do with reports, ROIs, and even positions.
A good example is the Philippine Basketball Association’s most popular rookie of 2013-2014, Gregory “Greg” Slaughter. I first knew of Greg through my good friend slash die-hard Ginebra fan, Von. For friendship’s sake, I asked Greg for a fan video for Von during one of my dad’s function and was surprised at how soft spoken and well-versed Greg is.
Greg is currently one of the league’s most dominant centers, raking up extremely big numbers across all the boards for the Barangay Ginebra Kings. Greg, who has an Ateneo De Manila University education tucked under his belt, chose to forego the typical yuppie path of suits and ties in favor of a red and white jersey, and a gym, instead of a corner office.
When asked why, he was quick to say, “I love playing basketball. I wouldn’t want any other job. It’s fun being able to compete with others, and see the progress you make.”
And while others might see his typical two to three hour “working” days as “the life”, Greg is quick to downplay it, “The biggest misconception is that we live easy lives, we work just as hard as anyone.” For Greg “a day in the office” means spending hours in the gym after practice, making sure to improve his craft.
And just like any yuppie just starting out, he himself has experienced disappointments, “It can be tough when things aren’t going your way, but the good thing about the sport is it’s my own stress reliever. So if things aren’t working out the I want them to, practicing is actually the way for me to feel better.”
Despite the similarities, it is quite true that basketball players in the Philippines live quite a privileged life, from the fame, money, and to the many adoring fans. From a struggling yuppie’s perspective, it can be quite wonderful, but for Greg, the perks have never been the focal point of his life, “Basketball players play basketball. If one can’t pride themselves on that and keep that as their number one priority then they probably won’t do very well in it.” He also credits his humble, and down-to-earth nature to how his parents raised him, he says it’s this that helps him to not be overwhelmed with the fame and everything else attached to it.
Those who spend the entire days in the office may think that Greg, along with other athletes, live the perfect life. It has always been in our human nature to think that, especially on challenging days.
However, sitting down with Greg along with stories from my dad and younger brother opened my eyes to the real world of basketball.
It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and the insurmountable pressure felt by one can be extremely overwhelming and can only be overcome by genuine love and passion for what you do.
And as a footnote, I’d like to share the biggest stereotype Greg smashed into pieces for me: the “athletes without depth” stereotype. Not only is Greg eloquent but was also an honor roll student in high school and took advanced placement classes.
Truly, when you make the effort, you’ll see that people are never the way you assume them to be.