“I realized that I can’t be another Tiger Woods,” Matthew Marcos Manotoc, or Matt, told The Manila Times in an interview this week.
Manotoc, over lunch at a restaurant serving Vietnamese food, was explaining why he ditched his passion since he was three—golf—and embarked shortly on sports management as a new career.
He recalled that he was 14 or 15, not yet out of high school at the International School-Manila and after a year at the Ateneo de Manila University, when he decided to quit golf, or so he absolutely thought, in favor of “something that I really want to do for the rest of my life.”
At the time and when Manotoc was nine, Woods was the Lord of the Links, having won the Masters in 1997 when he was just 22 years old and being the “dominant force” in the game throughout the 2000s.
Meanwhile, Manotoc, in 2006, was preparing to leave for the United States to study at Claremont Mckenna College, a private liberal arts school in California, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2010.
Later at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), he completed a sports management certificate course in the summer of 2014.
At Claremont, though, he still represented his school as a golfer at the National Collegiate Athletic Association there.
It was a familiar role for him, having been a member of the Philippine junior national team from 2004 to 2006.
But Manotoc said he knew what he was in UCLA later for and that was to prove to himself that he had made the right decision about a change in his career path.
One take on sports management is that it is a “field of education concerning the business aspects of sports and recreation.”
Practitioners in that field arguably could hope to be sports managers in front offices of professional sports, college sports, recreational sports, sports marketing, events organizing, facility management, sports economics, sports finance and sports information.
Manotoc, who has since returned to the Philippines from the United States, could be considered a newbie in the game here, having been with Espiritu Manotoc Basketball Management (EMBM), the product of a merger with a management firm run by Marvin Espiritu, only in 2011.
The country’s “first full-service basketball agency,” the EMBM, according to Manotoc, takes care of the business side of its clients’ endorsements; financial, marketing and publicity plans; and income-tax returns filing, among others that require more than paper-pushing.
Understandably, basketball stars of the Philippine Basketball Association, he said, are some of its bigger clients largely because “the PBA is here to stay and basketball will remain the No. 1 sports among Filipinos for a long time.”
Among the EMBM’s 80 clients are the PBA’s Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Jason Deutschman, Aljon Mariano Japeth Aguilar and dozens more of homegrown Filipino and Filipino-American basketball players.
The firm, Manotoc said, has been scouting for more Filipino-American basketball talents who may want to join the PBA.
There are a few other sports management firms in the Philippines, according to him, but they do not offer players a comprehensive package like EMBM.
“We are glad that Japeth took a chance on us, the big name that he has been,” he said of the member of Gilas, the Philippine national basketball team that is aiming to grab the lone slot for the Rio Olympics offered at the FIBA qualifiers to be hosted by the country this July.
Manotoc added that the EMBM is there for Aguilar and the other younger clients mainly for “guidance and protection” even when they are no longer active in the sport, if they so wish to renew their contracts with EMBM.
Despite those concerns, he said, “some older people around these basketball stars do not like sports managers approaching their players.”
The younger ones, especially, he added, could be easily talked into by their mentors that they do not need sports managers to help run their basketball careers.
But, Manotoc insisted, they do need the services of the EMBM if only to maintain their professional presence as businessmen or basketball consultants or coaches when their playing days are over.
All the EMBM clients sign one- to three-year contracts, according to Manotoc, from which they can opt out anytime, no questions asked.
He himself recently signed a three-year “contract” with the people of Ilocos Norte, the home province of his famous mom Imee.
Manotoc, at 28, is the youngest to have been elected as a member of the provincial board, representing District 2 that includes the capital of Laoag City.
Apparently, he said, his three “platforms,” anchored heavily, of course, on sports, resonated well with Ilocanos.
One, that sports is for everyone, the reason why Manotoc is pushing a “health and wellness advocacy” that he said will be boosted by “parks and other public spaces” for Ilocos Norte folk.
Second, that he ran because he wanted to be the “voice of the youth,” airing out in the open their wishes for their future, which Manotoc said would be helped significantly through use of social media.
Third, that “entrepreneurship” is the way to go for the young, and not that Manotoc finds anything wrong with working for other people, just that venturing into it would hopefully give them financial independence, at least.
But will this new hat that he has to wear until 2019 be replaced by another one later?
Manotoc said his mom, the reelected governor of Ilocos Norte, could talk him into giving higher political office a try but, he added, he will be the one to decide for himself.
Right now, however, the model-type, over six feet tall and soft-spoken Matt said he would rather be, well, a sports manager.
Tiger Woods, perhaps, would be pleased with that decision.