Double Play: Edgar Tijerino’s Blend of Sports & Politics

Edgar Tijerino

Sports commentator presents his book “Pongale sello” (Stamp it), in which he assembles commentaries and anecdotes of the 40 years of the Doble Play program

By Nayira Valenzuela (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – For popular sports commentator Edgar Tijerino, it is not necessary to wait until the day after the presidential elections—November 7—to do his Doble Play for that day. “I could do it now because I know what is going to happen. I am 100% sure that it will not change; you don’t have to be a wizard to see that.”

Doble Play reached 40 years of broadcasting on January 2. Most of the time broadcast on pro-FSLN radio stations; however, since the end of 2018 it switched to Radio Catolica (Catholic Radio), due to its strong denunciation against the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

“(In 1990), I was one of those who believed it was time to correct mistakes (in Sandinismo), and that never happened, we multiplied them,” recalls the sports commentator in an interview with the “Esta Semana” program.

Tijerino spoke of his 12th book, entitled “Pongale sello,” in which he assembles commentaries and anecdotes from the four decades of Doble Play.

After 40 years of this radio program, how do you define Doble Play? What explains its success?

The idea was to do something different, something according to my way of being, which is exactly like Doble Play. Someone without an agenda, unpredictable from one moment to another, who changes the subject of conversation. I wanted something like that, because at the time we started the competition was tough. We were at a disadvantage.

What is the formula? You talk about humor, sports, politics, soap operas, your lunch menus, your private life and your comments as a civic leader.

That appeared over time. It is difficult for me to listen to a sports only program. I don’t know if I can endure it. I think another ingredient must be added. At the beginning, it was just to make it funny, we joked around things that happened in the game itself. And, later, I started including normal everyday elements.

Soap operas were important because at the time Doble Play started there was only one channel in Nicaragua. At that time, it was important, because everyone was looking out for what was going to happen. And, I managed to get it, first with Channel 6 and later with Channel 2, which gave me two episodes ahead of time.

Departure from La Primerisima

In this last period, you were on “La Primerisima” radio, from which you left in the middle of the April crisis.

That was the radio where I felt the best. They didn’t drive me out of “La Primerisima,” I left. I argued that financially I could no longer support it (pay the airtime). So, they gave me a three-months discount; but it wasn’t true that I couldn’t pay.

I saw that the situation was going to be untenable for him (William Grigsby, director of the radio), and for me. The breaking point was close. I have no complaints of Grigsby, he tolerated everything from me. There was a moment when I went to talk to him and I said: “I know that today I made it difficult for you, and he said: have I said anything?’” He was tolerant of me.

What role have the audience, fans and controversy played in this program?

The program has changed. I no longer went to do interviews; I no longer went to the playing fields with the issue of getting older. People always picked on us because of our points of view, particularly with the pro-Boer position of Enrique (Armas). I was always pro-Boer, but not at Enrique’s level of fanaticism. However, I went along with it because the program was capturing more anti-Boer fans than pro-Boer. The anti-Boer people were listening more to Doble Play than the pro-Boer. It was not a strategy. Many things appeared along the way.

In this book, as far as the fans, you acknowledge as one of your personal mistakes to have defied the San Fernando fans at the Masaya stadium when Boer went to the final game and won the 1995 championship? The fans almost lynched you, did you provoke them?

I did the program before the game. I never do them on Sundays. I made a mistake and didn’t really think. I did things a little bit hastily. When I left the (playing) field, I felt the rejection of the people. So, I went direct to the Boer fans, like those orchestra conductors, and there was a stronger reaction from the people against me.

To leave the stadium was impossible. I tried it five times, even with a mask, but they always recognized me. I ended up leaving around 7 at night.

Fanaticism

Are there differences between sport fanaticism and political fanaticism? Is one equal to the other or worse?

They could have some approximation. The point is that fanaticism turns you blind, it does not admit things. In the books on any leadership including (Adolph) Hitler, to (Benito) Mussolini, and (Hugo) Chavez, there is that characteristic of sheep mentality.

Such has existed in all countries, not only here in Nicaragua. It is a mentality fomented by all dictatorships, (Rafael) Trujillo had it and Fidel (Castro) had it.

How has Doble Play changed in these almost three years of national crisis? In this election year, are you going to talk more about politics?

I have a political introduction in the program, and afterwards we do the sports. Usually, it occupies 10 minutes and the other 50 minutes of sports. There are people who appreciate those 10 minutes, while others do not.

What do you remember from your most memorable programs?

I remember when (the Sandinistas) lost the elections in1990. I spent two hours on it without a single word of sports, without commercials. All of it was dedicated to the defeat. I was one of those who believed it was time to correct mistakes, and that never happened. Instead, we multiplied them.

I imagine people are going to look forward to your program on November 8th, after the elections.

I could do it right now because I know what is going to happen. I am 100% sure that it will not change; you don’t have to be a wizard to see that.”

Read more interviews on Havana Times.


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