Public, private, rich and poor

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

It’s very exciting when you kind of hit that moment where you realize that you’re onto something, when you realize that there is knowledge that’s just lying there in the open, it’s just that no one is using it – Magnus Nilsson

This early, 2021 is already shaping up to be a great year of recovery for sport. The human spirit, the realization that we must create ways to break free of confinement, has come to the fore. Cognizant of the hazards, mankind is moving forward, also through sports. The announcements of resumption of several sports is encouraging. You can’t cage the spirit. It must be allowed to move, to fly. After long hibernation, sports are resuming, and we are delighted by it.

Of course, the main difference between public and private expenditure is that the government is mainly concerned with competitions for national teams. This is primarily amateur in nature with the exception of open sports like basketball, boxing, tennis and a few others. Private endeavors like professional sport, are shorter-term in nature. Conduct a tournament, find out who is the best, end the season. Period. Combat sports are even shorter, a seemingly connected – but actually not – series of duels for rankings and belts, which make them somewhat easier to do once a system is in place. Basically, you wipe the dirt of your shoes when you come in, then don’t go out again until everything is over.

For the national government, athletes are part of its duty to inspire its citizenry and promote its grassroots development duty. Sport is a necessity, for body, mind and spirit. Those who do not understand that still live in an unenlightened age. We cannot live without physical activity. Man always used to hunt, fight and travel for survival, many parallels to sport, which is a figurative substitute for those needs and even for war.

With the exception of the all-encompassing bubble for national athletes in Calamba, and the PBA’s successful version of it, other bubbles are designed for individual or small-team sports like 3x3. This brings the cost down, and improves efficiency. For the NBA bubble, food was prepared by chefs offsite, packed, then passed from a delivery service to a distributor inside the bubble. Nobody touched the food or even its container once the chefs packed it.

However, this draws a second line, between private and public agencies that can afford it, and those that cannot for whatever reason. The NCAA plans on having two bubbles given the spread of its teams. Since schools are closed, dormitories are available for use by athletes. But other leagues that cannot absorb the cost of food, lodging and regular medical testing will have to keep on waiting for the time when contamination rates go down, or vaccines become more pervasive. In many ways, the pandemic is the great equalizer. But in some, it is not.

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