Panalay Lockdown
Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - March 27, 2020 - 12:00am

COVID-19 has literally locked down the sports industry worldwide, and Cebu isn’t exempted. Among the affected is the “panalay” world of local basketball. Panalay basketball refers to those who earn a living by being part of the sport whether as a player, coach, utility staff member, referee/official or organizer.

“Luoy gyud ang tanan kay wala naman silay income,” a well-known organizer of basketball tournaments said. Basketball players receive anywhere between P1,000 to P5,000 per game, depending on their level of play. They are also provided with free accommodations, transportation and meals. And if they win prize money as a team, a part of this is given to the players. They usually play in weekend pocket tournaments anywhere in the Visayas and Mindanao where organizers put up tournaments in partnership with either the mayor of a town or city, or a private entity. Some well-known Manila-based players travel to these tournaments due to the attractive “talay” (fee). Imports and ex-professional players can receive anywhere between P8,000 to P20,000 per game, excluding bonuses, accommodations, transportation and meals.

A coach of one of the winningest teams in panalay leagues lamented that for his coaching staff alone, they were due to earn around P50,000 over five days in the month of March. They were supposed to be playing in Panabo, Davao del Norte this weekend but all games have been cancelled. A coaching staff includes one or two assistant coaches and a utility assistant. His players who don’t have any other means of income have found themselves suddenly idle and have asked for assistance from their team owners. Fortunately for some, playing panalay basketball isn’t their main source of income as they also have backyard businesses at home. Unfortunately, they remain to be a minority.

Game officials have also been hit hard. A game referee can earn between P1,500 to P3,000 per game on top of accommodations, meals and transportation allowances. Table officials earn between P300 to P500 per game. This excludes their income from minor leagues such as grassroots or age group basketball tournaments. While most of the referees have either a job or other sources of income, a few rely on basketball officiating for their livelihood. Over and above all the players, coaches and game officials are the tournament organizers who are tapped to manage these games. With the onset of summer when many of these tournaments are held, it looks like panalay basketball will be locked down.

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