Freeman Cebu Sports

Sports Resumes but stays safe

BLEACHER TALK - Rico S. Navarro - The Freeman

With the PBA Bubble well underway with its daily schedule of games, the Chooks to Go Pilipinas 3X3 set to start this week and the Philippines Football League launching its tournament next week, things are slowly but surely picking up for Philippine sports. Also in the discussion are beach volleyball of the PSL and horse racing. And as expected, many comments on social media have been asking for the return of sports. This is completely understandable. But when should other sports activities get back to action? If they really wish to resume with sports, there is a way to do it.

Sports is very much part of our culture and it’s impossible to take it out of our system. This is where the various professional sports have done a great job of resuming its activities but under very strict health and safety protocols. The PBA, pro boxing, Chooks to Go 3X3, and the PFL worked long hours with developing the strict guidelines with the various agencies overlooking sports: Inter Agency Task Force, Games and Amusements Board, Department of Health, Philippine Sports Commission and other consultants. And these are now being implemented. We pray for the success of all ventures and that not a single positive test for COVID is recorded. It’s a matter of time before other activities follow suit. The PSL has a beach volleyball tournament planned in Subic. I believe that the MPBL plans to do a bubble of its postponed playoffs. The NBL and WNBL also has plans of implementing its own bubble set-up. Pro boxing will surely not be left behind after the model executed by Omega Boxing. What other sports will most likely follow suit?

Now that you get the point, are you ready to resume your sports activities? The new reality is a given. One cannot run a sports program without taking into consideration the demands for a safe and healthy environment for all of one’s stakeholders. To make a simple example, if we were to insist on resuming the basketball games of the CESAFI and MYBL-Cebu, could we assure the implementation of bubble-like guidelines followed by the PBA and Chooks to Go Pilipinas 3X3? The easy answer is NO. We don’t have the resources and financial support to do all that; yet some people think it’s that simple. Running a tournament in this pandemic is like running two tournaments in one: the games per se and the more important game against COVID. If your organization is confident that it can implement a bubble tournament, then go ahead and talk to the regional IATF and government agencies.

This leads us to school-based sports, one of the segments that will surely be expected to somehow to resume its activities. The most prudent thing to do for all student-athletes is to study and stay in shape at the same time. I don’t see any face-to-face school-based sports competitions happening this school-year (August 2020 to May or June 2021). This is why I didn’t understand the rationale behind the same-level transfer of some Cebu players to Manila schools. They said they had better chances of playing this schoolyear because the CESAFI was cancelled. Why? When is the UAAP or NCAA resuming its games? Maybe they have inside information that we don’t know about. 

In the sports world, sports events are now resuming also under strict guidelines. Major league baseball is having its games in two neutral venues for both the National and American League Championship Series. Teams stay nearby and regular testing is conducted. This will be the set-up until the World Series. The same is true for professional football. But it hasn’t been all good news. Did you know that Christian Ronaldo tested positive for COVID? He’ll now miss games of his mother team Portugal and his club team Juventus. Pro golfer Dustin Johnson also tested positive and he too has to self-isolate. Nick Saban, Alabama’s famous head coach for football, now has to coach via zoom for the same reason. Saban’s case is one of many troubling U.S. college football. Some conferences have decided to go on with their usual home-and-away travel routine while maintaining a “close circuit” approach. Other leagues have postponed their opening games.

We in the Philippines are so far blessed that we haven’t registered positives for COVID. And that’s the way it should be. Let’s all continue to pray for Philippine sports and that all stay safe.

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