Debilitating sports through politics

ariel nepomuceno_1Following his recent impressive world welterweight-title victory over Jessie Vargas, fighting Sen. Manny Pacquiao demonstrated he still has the mighty punch despite a dramatic loss to Mayweather in their 2015 fight. This win restored Pacquiao to the boxing world’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Several lawmakers and a sprinkle of showbiz personalities witnessed him fight. And upon coming back from Los Angeles, was accompanied by former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit C. Singson and National Police chief Ronald M. de la Rosa. Instead of going back to the province, Pacquiao went straight to the Senate to resume his public duties. Indeed, a literal but powerful demonstration of the interrelation of politics and sports, often regarded by sports critics and analysts as a pitfall rather than an advantage.

Individual excellence

The country adores sports heroes, and Filipinos love their athletes passionately, win or lose. And with good reason. We have the likes of Leopoldo Serrantes, Onyok Velasco, Lydia de Vega, Paeng Nepomuceno, Akiko Thomson, Eugene Torre, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Nonito Donaire and the many others who we all ardently cheered and prayed for. But why do we fail miserably in international sports competition? Why are our athletes continuously demoralized and eternally complaining about their plight?

Perennial challenges

The ails of Philippine sports have been attributed to many factors—the great lack of funding, absence of a comprehensive sports-development program, gross mismanagement and corruption and, most of all, the nasty and divisive politics among the different government agencies that are mandated to take care of our athletes.

The raw facts would show the constant conflicts between the national sports associations, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). Allegations of misuse of funds, unhealthy alliances with private companies and personal animosities among our sports leaders have crippled our athletes, and deprived them of chances of bringing glory to the country. And it seems that our government has not made anyone accountable for these failures.

Big pool of talents

The Philippines is teeming with talent. From cities to the barrios, there are undiscovered terrains of potential stars in basketball, football, tennis, boxing, gymnastics and others. We have to harness these strengths, rigorously train, provide adequate funding and support them as they compete

That sports is a unifying tool and a great purveyor of any country’s heritage and cultural identity is not a matter to be debated upon. It is a reality.

Sports is an enabler, and should be tapped for binding us closer as a nation. And sports will always be an instrument in getting the respect of other countries.


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