The Brothers Harbaugh: Just like Filipino families that come together

By Ludy A. Ongkeko, Ph.D.

One does not have to be a football fan to be acquainted with the Harbaugh brothers.

Blissfully, the Harbaugh brothers have proven how brothers, how even those immersed in the same game, in the same craft as coaches, can love one another, as they represented their teams as heavy contenders in the February 3rd Super Bowl 2013.

Since most of us, Filipino Americans have families, aren’t we all inclined to support one another? Has that devotion identified with closeness in such a unit evaporate over time? Isn’t it sad when that happens? But the Filipino family can withstand strife. How many siblings among Filipinos have been role models even in the face of competition?

All right, Jim, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and John, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, guided their teams to the Super Bowl on the first Sunday of February. Definitely, the brothers were on opposite sides, with each one vying with one another for his team. But did the competition make them foes? Even friends would have been bitter enemies But not the Harbaugh brothers.

Those who listened in to the joint news conference just before the supposedly ‘battleground’ exercises asked whether the brothers would “consider teaming up if either should be forced out of his current post.”

The Ravens coach said, “No question about it. We’ve had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I’d love to work for Jim. It would be the greatest thing in the world.”

Jim, the 49ers coach said, “Definitely, I would work for him.”

There, the feeling was mutual. Even after the conclusion of the game, the affection between the brothers seemed palpably so.

The meeting between the Super Bowl protagonists against the New Orleans Super Dome’s backdrop marked history. An epoch. No brothers have ever coached as head coaches or even other coach levels against one another in that long-anticipated event of champions in that remarkable competition.

What was another first was the presence of their parents, also their grandfather.

It was learned that Jack Harbaugh, their father, was a ‘successful college coach’ and his sons followed in his footsteps. John, the Ravens coach, disclosed part of his brother’s steps.

“We almost made it happen at Stanford (Palo Alto, California) at one time. It would be an honor to have him on the staff. He’s a great coach. You always try to get great coaches, and there are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously. There’s no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here.”

Jim’s reaction: “Well, Jack Harbaugh.”

Parental deference has come from everyone in the family. What a signal sign of how family acts toward one another that is so encouraging!

Although Patriarch Jack has been on the receiving end of tremendous credit for molding the boys into coaches, his sons talked about their mother, Jackie. Their statements tell volumes.

“There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother. She competes like a maniac. She has always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me She believed in me, John, and Joanie, and took us to games and played catch, shot baskets with us, and just believed in us,” according to Jim in the televised news conference.

“No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us to have each other’s back and be there for one another,” John said.

Such statements from both brothers, as they paid tribute to their mother represent such a huge reminder of the role that mothers and homemakers play in the family as a unit.

Say it or not, there’s love, devotion and discipline all rolled into one. Indeed, family bonds stand out as positive indicators.

What does that very recent Super Bowl mean? What did those past Super Bowls usher in? Didn’t they remind us of Philippine families?

Now that Super Bowl 2013 has become a thing of the past, and brothers as opposing coaches never changed in their esteem for one another, the example that the Harbaugh brothers showed to the world unintentionally is worthy of emulation. Family should not be altered because of professional responsibilities.

Modesty aside, there are Filipino American families that are similar to the Harbaughs. May that kinship never be effaced by time and professional rivalry. And, if we believe in what we’ve heard in the way we were brought up in the Philippines, “The family that prays together stays together,” then we do practice what we’ve heard,” family is family.” No definition is needed.

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One Comment

  1. Joyce Mendez wrote:

    Kudos, Creen and FilAm, for very nice, inspiring, informative articles on Filipinos in America.

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