New normal in Sports?
BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - May 3, 2020 - 12:00am

Yes. That’s a question. One that I myself can’t even answer definitely. Has COVID 19 thrown a monkey wrench into everything or what? This virus has been a true “VUCA,” to borrow a term from a friend’s presentation: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. 

But now that we have accepted this as harsh reality (or are we still in denial?), all of us in sports must now learn how to move on and find ways to find that new normal while a permanent solution to the virus is nowhere in sight (for now). The sad part about the sports industry is that coaches, semi-pro players, game officials, team managers and team staff earn their pay via the “no work no pay” scheme. While the pros in the PBA won’t be affected by this, did you know that around 90% of the sports industry work under this “talay” set-up? They are the coaches of sports clubs, schools or teams. Included here are members of their coaching staff like physical therapists and utility staff members. If games aren’t played, game officials or referees are also without their source of income. The usual hundreds of summer clinics have also been wiped off the calendar and with this is the summer income of coaches/clinicians and their staff, gyms for venue rental, ambulant vendors, parking aides and the like.

What options do they have? I take my hat off to those who do double duty of sports and also have small businesses of their own on the side, or those who have jobs outside sports. Sports should never be one’s only source of income. This is why we always remind student-athletes that collegiate sports should not be the final destination of their respective journeys. It’s fleeting, short-term and won’t feed you for life.

Options for the new normal? For starters, we have to accept that there will be new ways of doing things. The ways of the past will have to be parked until a vaccine or a permanent solution is found. I can now see more personal, one on one online tutorials/sessions for coaches and their athletes. It’s a virtual workout similar to those being offered online or on TV. Thanks to technology, a coach can conduct practice via video conference through messenger; no need for Zoom here. For team practice, this can done via Zoom with a coach handling all members of the team doing individual drills. Social distancing is guaranteed and the need to stay in shape is maintained. It’s not the perfect set-up, but it works. Have you seen the online tutorials on the basics of basketball and volleyball posted by the BEST Center and Milo on Facebook and YouTube? One of the viral online trends these days is Tik Tok. People dance to a routine and they post this on Facebook. Did you see the one of Coaches Tonyo Trebol, Elying Toledo and company on FB? If Tonyo and Elying can do TikTok, I’m sure other coaches can also do drills with their athletes. Coaches can also hold actual class lectures or meetings online. After all, practice isn’t only about drills and physical activity. They get their ample dose of lectures, don’t they?

During this pandemic, coaches (and athletes too) must take advantage of the time to study and sharpen themselves for the future. Coaches always preach that “learning/improving/practice never stops,” and they are not exempted. With this downtime, the internet has hundreds of free webinars and online talks with tons of ideas and content. We have tied up with Ateneo de Davao’s Noli Ayo for an MWF series of talks (that many Cebu coaches have attended). Pinay Futbol has a weekly series of talks on their Facebook page. Hoop Coaches International through Coach Arnel Vanguardia has launched a series of talks featuring popular basketball coaches sharing their thoughts and expertise. The Sports Management Council of the Philippines has their Saturday talks also online. Yesterday’s topic was on how to teach PE and sports online. And these are all for free! There is no excuse for not being able to watch/attend any of these. Please don’t give the usual excuse that you don’t have time or that there’s a fee. No internet? If you have time for Facebook, watch/post videos and even do a TikTok, please don’t say you can’t attend webinars.

This COVID 19 period is ironically a good testing ground to see which coaches will be ready for the long term. The coaches who will do something will be fine: find ways to learn, innovate and act. But the coaches who do nothing and still expect to go back to the old ways may find themselves without a livelihood soon. If one continues to get stuck in the past, they’ll surely be left behind.

When this pandemic is all over, the ones who prepared today/now, will be ready for the new normal. And so I ask again. What will you do? Do something or nothing?

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