We win, play & cheer as one
BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - December 8, 2019 - 12:00am

The 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) are well underway, filling the TV with a daily dose of action, news, videos and highlights; giving sports fans an overdose of sports fun. Yes, I know. It has also become a venue for pro and anti government “experts” to throw mud at each other on social media, but we’re not going to join that mess. Let the kids have their own petty quarrels while we sports fans enjoy the show. We can talk about that on another day. For now, let’s win as one, play as one and cheer as one.

One of the biggest revelations (although not surprising) is that the Pinoy athlete can excel and win. We are currently leading in the medal standings, thanks to the big wins of our heroes in the medal-rich individual sports. Thanks to PSC Commissioner Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez and the Philippine Sports Institute’s figures, 14 golds were harvested by the arnis team, while ten golds were courtesy of the dancesports (as of December 6). I’d like to add that Cebuanos are present in both teams but let’s think of the bigger picture for the country, “Win as One,” not just Cebu. I just hope that this serves to wake us up again as a sports nation on how we can excel in the international level when participating in Olympic-style events. We have always dreamed of scoring that first-ever (elusive) Olympic gold meal and where will this come from? Chances are better in individual sports where height and size is not an issue. We should also forget about those team sports (basketball, volleyball, football) to score an Olympic gold. While dancesport and arnis are not part of the bigger Asian Games and the Olympics, we have excelled in sports such as boxing, gymnastics, weightlifting, gymnastics, judo and taekwondo. Let’s support these sports as much as we can and with patience and perseverance, that elusive gold will come. But this doesn’t mean that we should totally ignore the more popular team sports, as proposed by some. Let’s face it, the market forces have proven that basketball, volleyball and football are the still the most popular in the country. These are the only events that charge fees for tickets and still draw large crowds, while all other events are open to the public for free.

On a smaller scale, we hope that the DepEd Region 7 also sees how the CVIRAA can improve its standings in the Palarong Pambansa. We’ve been talking about this for such a long time, but what kind of efforts has the CVIRAA exerted to work on winning golds in individual events? If you take a look at the total medal count of the SEAG, athletics is awarding a total of 48 gold medals, while there are 44 golds in swimming, and 19 in gymnastics. The numbers for this would be similar at the Palaro. If you win a bulk of these events, you have bigger chances of getting closer to traditional champion NCR.

Another proven phenomenon at events like the SEAG, especially when the country hosts, is that sports can truly unite a nation. Pinoy sports fans (and even non sports fans) are rooting for the Pinoy athletes. Crowd support has been impressive and this will continue to grow as the games approach its final days. The basketball, football and volleyball teams have seen fans of the different club teams cheering as one (even if the women’s volleyball team is winless and the Azkals are out of it already). The slogan “We Win as One” can easily be replaced to “We Cheer as One.” Cool, di ba?

But that’s not all. We also play as one. Athletes who face off against each other on a regular day have that unique chance of playing as a united front for the flag, an honor that only a few can achieve in their career. It’s fun listening to the TV sportscasters mention that Jia Morado sets for someone like Jovelyn Gonzaga, Abby Maraño, Mylese Paar or Majoy Baron instead of Alyssa Valdez. Did you see how LA Tenorio fed June Mar Fajardo for an easy basket last night? Or how Kiefer Ravena’s entry pass to Greg Slaughter looked like they were ballclub teammates? And how about Stephen Schrock playing “kuya” to the rest of the Azkals Under 22 football team.

We can’t end this piece without talking about our world-class facilities. A big part of a successful hosting of a sports event is having excellent facilities that will wow the athletes and audience up close, on TV, pictures, social media or online. (Ehem ehem, cough cough: DepEd, take a cue). What else is there to say? Sure, it isn’t a perfect set-up but I’m confident the country is up to par in this department. The crucial part is how to maximize these facilities that we have and how not to make this rot/end up as white elephants. It’s already a given that our national athletes should be given access to these. There are also talks of external clients coming in to train here, and that’s most welcome (bring in those dollars). But these facilities must also be used for other events, even if not of the same magnitude as the SEAG. For North and Central Luzon events, the new Clark facilities should be a regular venue.

Special Christmas Wish: I ask Santa Clause that the Philippine Sports Commission and the DepEd work together to bring the Palarong Pambansa to the New Clark City. Let’s bring the biggest event for the youth to the best place possible. They deserve only the best as many Palaro products are future national team members. I have nothing against Mindoro (reportedly the host of Palaro 2020), but I’m sure they, too will agree with our wish to bring the Palaro to Clark. In fact, I’d like to see the Palaro held only in places like New Clark, then have build-build-build set up similar facilities in the Visayas and Mindanao where the biggest events like the Palaro can be held on a rotation scheme. 

Thank to the SEAG for making us win, play and cheer as one. Laban Pilipinas!

bleachertalk@yahoo.com

SOUTHEAST ASIAN GAMES
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