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Rough Cuts | A new sports program is needed

The frustration and sadness over the winless participation of the Philippine basketball team Gilas Pilipinas in the Asian FIBA qualifying tournament in China is still very much in the air all over the country. Basketball-crazy Filipinos have clearly not move on from the experience.

Perhaps the time is now rife that our sports officials train their eyes on other sports disciplines that we have bigger chances of winning medals in international competitions such as the Olympics.

Our government sports moguls should now moderate their being enamored with basketball since they know in their hearts that the sport is dominated by countries whose players have the height and the heft of body.

We believe they now need to consider rowing, baseball, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, marathon and wrestling in addition to boxing and weight lifting as among the sports disciplines of choice for our participation. Top corporate sponsors should also shift a sizeable portion of their budget in supporting sports disciplines earlier mentioned and not just concentrate their money in basketball, volleyball and football.

These days though, we have observed that corporate spending in sports sponsorship is starting to be distributed to other sports tournaments like the fast crowd-attracting professional volleyball games. Even collegiate tournaments are now getting noticed by large corporations as effective venue for marketing their products and services.

However, we can expect a heavier push — if not shove — to putting emphasis in other sports disciplines to compete in future international tournaments if it is the government that wills it quite strongly.

If government continues to be enslaved by the more popular sports in the country then there can never be hope to earn more medals in such sports competitions as the SEA Games, the Asian Games, and more so the quadrennial Olympics.

We also feel that government should get out of the box in the search for talents in various sports disciplines. For now, the sports authorities are heavily dependent on the talents discovered in school-based athletic meets.

It is about time that the President should instruct his Philippine Sports Commission guy in Butch Ramirez to organize non-school-based athletic tournaments involving local government units. Such athletic meets shall start at the barangay level and move on to the municipal or city level then to the provincial units. The champions at this level will be pitted against the champions from other provinces during the regional level competitions. Then the final phase shall be the national meet that can be routinely hosted by the different regions of the country.

And it would also be best if the participants in these multi-level athletic competitions shall not only be in-school athletes. They can either be out-of-school youth or young workers who have the passion for certain specific sports discipline.

The talents that can be discovered from these tournaments can also be pitted against those produced by school-initiated athletic meets and the surviving champions shall be the ones to be included in the national pool of sports talents that the country can train further and select the best that can be sent to future international sports competitions.

It is in sports programs like these that government and the corporate sector can work together to ensure its success and the possible medal harvests in forthcoming global tournaments.

Basketball? Well, let the discipline remain as tool for some kind of a national past time. Let it be a major vehicle for selling products by certain large corporate conglomerates even as leaders of the said sport continue to search and develop talents.

But it is about time the talents that should be subject to the search are real and blue-blooded Filipinos whose hearts are for the country’s fame and glory and not for the large pay checks that they will receive as allowances.

Who were the members of the Philippine basketball teams when the country was lording over the sports discipline in the Asian and South East Asian Games? Who composed the Philippine team when the Philippines won second place in the world basketball tournament many decades ago?

Yes, there were Spanish mestizos like the late Caloy Loyzaga and Davao’s own Paking Rabat. But they were born Filipinos and not forcibly naturalized just to meet the qualification requirements.

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