My Christmas wish list
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco () - December 24, 2001 - 12:00am
I’ll let you in on a secret. I sent Santa a wish list.

I know, I know: I’m a little too old to be believing in jolly ol’ Saint Nic, but I thought that, with the tough times and all, it wouldn’t hurt to get a little outside help in these difficult times. It took a lot of research to get his address, but I sent him a list of things I want for this Christmas. I’ve tried to be as good a boy as possible, so I hope he gives me a break. Here’s what I asked for.

A Department of Sports.
Since the sport was taken away from the Department of Education, it’s been in limbo. No government agency can really handle sports, and, even if it were required to, the Philippine Sports Commission already has its hands full with intrigue, politicking and housecleaning. So number one on my list is a cabinet-level entity in charge of sports, so that the country will look better, fell great, and save trillions of pesos in sick leaves, benefits, lost man-hours, and improved business.

Sports Police, Lobbyists.
Controversy has been sports’ spouse for years now, from the audacity of certain Fil-Ams to presume they can play here, to constant accusations of malversation of funds, to congress’ insensitivity to the importance of sports to their constituents. I long for an independent watchdog group that can not only protect the interests of athletes and sports organizations, but even campaign for their rights in for a like congress and other important arenas. Sports needs a big brother.

More Sponsors for More Sports.
Times have been difficult, it’s true, and advertising is the first thing to go. So I wish for more private and government sponsors to advertise their products through sports events and television programs. Let’s spread the wealth. Basketball already has the lion’s share, and it’s getting bigger every year. Next season, let’s train our sights on the challenge of leading other sports to prosperity. If television networks would take the lead, at least ten other deserving sports would improve by leaps and bounds.

Better Benefits.
Seriously, it’s hard enough for an ordinary person to survive on P8,000-P10,000 a month. What more for an athlete who consumes more in food, clothing, vitamins, therapy, and other needs? At the first Philippine Sports Summit years ago, hundreds of sports authorities and personalities drafted a covenant that promised to take care of the Filipino athlete. Sadly, it seems the covenant died at birth. So who will care for our athletes after all?

More Champions.
The Winter Olympics in Utah may give Filipinos a chance to see how versatile they truly are. We may be entered in at least two events (ice skating and snowboarding), and have an outside shot at a medal. Let’s show the world that boxing, billiards, bowling and golf are just the tip of the iceberg. Remember all the Filipinos who have already won Olympic gold medals for the United States (from Victoria Manalo in swimming in 1948 to Tiffany Roberts in soccer in the last Olympics) and know that we can do it.

A School for Coaches, Sports Doctors.
Instead of importing coaches and trainers and sports medicine practitioners. let’s export them. There are Filipinos studying abroad and even working in the NFL, NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball as scouts, team physicians, trainors and the like. Let’s bring them together and come up with a formal educationsl system specializing in sport. Australia has the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) and as late as fifteen years ago, they could do nothing against us in international sports competitions. We got left behind.

A Full-Time Basketball Team.
I had to dust off the cobwebs on this one. When was the last time we had a full-time national team? And what is our favorite sport? Sometimes, I forget.

Peace in College Basketball.
Even internally, some schools are starting to feel the unrest of dissatisfaction among their own alumni. In a succeeding column, I will detail how a group of alumni of this prestigious university is gathering evidence to prove that the decline of sports in general and basketball in particular, appears to be orchestrated by that school’s very adminstration. Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? Read Saturday’s piece.

So, if Santa doesn’t get my letter in time, I hope he reads this or logs on to and finds out. It’s quite urgent. And it’s not just for me, but for all the frustrated little boys and girls who’ve grown up and never got what they really wanted for and from sports in our country.

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