Freeman Cebu Sports


BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro - The Freeman

Why do people cheat in sports? At the highest level, we’ve seen how Lance Armstrong got away with seven Tour de France titles, only to admit that he took banned substances that made him the cyclist that he was. Sprinter Marion Jones of the United States was considered the darling of Athletics after winning all those gold medals in the sprints, but she too would later admit to taking Enhancement Performing Drugs or EPDs. Ben Johnson was another world record holder in the sprints who was busted for taking banned substances. The more blunt word to use? They cheated. To them, “the end justifies the means.” They were willing to do anything just to win that gold medal or that trophy and hog the headlines of the sports pages.

According to Wikipedia, “Cheating is the getting of a reward for ability by dishonest means. It is generally used for the breaking of rules to gain unfair advantage in a competitive situation. The rules infringed may be explicit, or they may be from an unwritten code of conduct based on morality, ethics or custom. Someone who is known for cheating is referred to as a cheat in British English, and a cheater in American English.”

Unfortunately for us in Cebu, we too, have our own share of cheating. The CESAFI 2015 season was hit by a cheating case on the part of the Southwestern University high school basketball team which was set to make  a comeback to the scene after being away since the CAAA days of Cyrus Baguio and company in the 90s. The team was found to have tampered with the birth certificates of players who were past the age of 17 years old, the age limit for the high school division. The initial investigation revealed that birth certificates of five athletes were tampered to make them “still” 17 years old and therefore eligible. One was reportedly already 25 years old (born in 1990) and they had the balls to squeeze him down to someone born in 1998. In this case, it looked like the year 1990 was converted to 1998 through the creativity and talents of a master artist or magician. The good news is that this attempt to cheat was discovered and penalties have been imposed on SWU Coach Rene Lubguban who reportedly brought these players from Cagayan de Oro. Did these players know what was going on? Did Lubguban act on his own? Are there other players out there who also cheated and lied about their ages? For now, SWU has withdrawn from the tournament and I think it will take awhile before they join the high school ranks.

The main reason why these people cheat is that they want to make their teams look good and win a championship. Winning is the only thing that counts and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win, cheating included. To them, cheating is the norm and they find creative ways to do this. They tamper birth certificates, switch identities, falsify school documents, and produce fake documents. In SWU’s case, Athletic Director Ryan Aznar was fresh from striking six players off the college basketball team since he knew they would be declared ineligible to play in the CESAFI. Little did he know that his high school basketball coach slipped fraudulent documents into their papers. This wasn’t the kind of news SWU was hoping for when it launched its sports programs, was it?

It’s obvious that cheaters are out only for the short term and selfish benefits of their act. They have absolutely no concern for the development of their players and are out there only for themselves. The irony of it all is that by cheating, they’re hampering not only the lives of the players involved, but more importantly their own lives. The short term benefit will be drowned by the long term effects of such an act. Moreover, they are toying with the lives of minors in another form of what I’d consider as a case of child abuse or exploitation.

To be fair with all, age-cheating has been isolated and minimal. This is not a wide-spread phenomenon. In our experience with the CESAFI, BEST SBP Passerelle tournaments, CVIRAA/Palarong Pambansa and the CYBL, all teams have been honest and transparent. And for this, we are grateful and have high respect for school owners, administrators and sports officials. Gone are the days when age cheating was the norm and everyone was suspected of cheating. Thus, a case like this will make the blood of school owners and directors boil, especially if it came from one of their own. School owners have committed to the spirit of fair play and a level playing field through honest and transparent means. It’s just sad that this doesn’t trickle down to the lower levels in a few and isolated cases. I just hope that these cheaters are punished, kicked out of their posts, and never given a chance to be involved in basketball in any form. I also pray that Cebu coaches get together and make the same commitment for the good of the sport and Cebu’s youth.


Time-out: Happy birthday to Mylene Bersabal!












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