Give Phl sports due importance

TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag - The Freeman

The wife and I have a two-hour break from daily care-giving duties here in the beautiful coastal town of Carigara in Leyte. We have come to value these precious two hours and spend 45 minutes of it brisk walking from the house to the boulevard by the bay and doing 10 laps around a 200-meter stretch of island in the middle of the road.

Then it is off to the nearby "pantalan" to do winding down exercises and, more importantly, to take in the fresh sea breeze, greet the sun as it peeks over the eastern mountains toward Babatngon and Tacloban, and to marvel at God's creativity with shapes, colors, sights and smells that makes each morning so beautifully different even if most mornings are essentially just the same.

But this is not about me or the wife or Carigara or even God. This is about what we have observed all of a sudden just this past week during our daily early morning exercises. The past week saw a sudden surge of activity in the boulevard involving mostly very young people doing jogs or runs around the boulevard island.

It turned out they were aspiring high school athletes preparing for an athletic meet scheduled somewhere in Leyte at around this very time. I would be lying if I say I was not exhilarated and happy to see so many young people getting involved in sports instead of something destructive to their lives and future. But I would be lying too if I say I did not feel sad and sorry for them as well.

But why the latter feeling? Because clearly these young kids did not have the proper and appropriate support to make their endeavors meaningful and worth a chance. That they started jogging or running only a week before the athletic meet shows their preparation was not only inadequate, it was also haphazard. There were even no coaches around to do some supervising or give tips on the dos and don’ts of sporting exercises. 

Not only were those aspiring athletes left to their own devices, they were being sent to the slaughterhouse. Now, if any of those kids do manage to win, I would presume they only won out of some innate insurmountable superior talent or sheer benevolent luck. Because it is difficult to imagine how inadequate and haphazard preparation can ever be relied upon to produce glory in sports.

Replicate this sad and sorry observation nationwide and you have the answer to why the Philippines has always been one of the whipping boys in global sporting competitions. We practice and prepare only at the last minute, unlike other countries, like China for example, that start them very very young, almost from the cradle itself.

Our public school system, which forms the backbone of our charge into sports, has been grossly remiss in such a tremendous responsibility. It is to blame for our mediocrity. School calendars are made in advance. Athletic meets are known as much as a year or two ahead. Yet the system still picks athletes only a week or two before when this could be done as soon as classes open to buy time for better preparation. So ever wonder why we lose?

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