Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fair Play: That ordinance on running

I’VE heard of Cebu City Councilor Edgar Labella’s ordinance that seek to regulate road races in Cebu over two months ago but it was only this week that I finally managed to read a copy.

So far, I liked most of what I’ve read.

Left unchecked, this exponential growth of the sport may burn itself out in a few years or so, that’s why I liked the initiative of Councilor Labella, himself an experienced runner.

I like Section 5 of Article 2 of the proposed ordinance, where organizers are barred from even promoting a run if they haven’t secured a permit from the City yet.

This is a good move because sometimes, organizers rely on the press too much to do the promotion for them, and sometimes, they focus more on the PR side of races, instead of the technical stuff—hence the controversies in some of the races lately.

As to the cost of the permit?

Here’s one thing that’s going to ruffle some organizers. The City ordinance proposes a five-fold increase, from P1,981 to P10,000 for 21K races or higher, P7,500 for 10K to 21K races and P5,000 for 10K or races.

Joel Baring, one of the more experienced race directors and the media’s favorite because of the efficient way he handles the results, said it is too much and he even considers a 100 percent increase (or double the fee) as too much.

Baring said covering the difference of P8,000 may be hard for those organizers who don’t have corporate backers since they don’t want to pass it on to the participants through higher registration fees.

But I disagree and I even think the higher fee will be good for organizers, as well.
You see, in road races, it’s not really the organizers who take care of the nitty-gritty, they normally hire experienced race directors to take care of that.

With the mushrooming of races, so did the number of race directors—some who are just Johnny-come-latelies who think because they run, they can run a race.

Some charge organizers an arm and a leg, at least P100,000. Some are successful, some aren’t.

With a P10,000 fee, organizers now have a reason to dissuade race directors from
charging too much.

“It’s either you lower your fee or we can go look elsewhere.”

However, I think it’s not the increased fees that race organizers and directors should be worried. It should be Section 11 of Article 2, which says that aside from the permit fees, “athletic games, or meets and competitions, if such games…….(are) held primarily for fund-raising purposes are required to pay applicable taxes before being issued permits.”

I am one of those tax-idiots who until now don’t know why I’m paying this much tax, but based on my limited understanding, Section 11 basically tells organizers, “Don’t forget big brother!”

Curiously, one of the strongest features of Labella’s ordinance, could become its most contentious. Labella proposes that only one permit will be given for a single day and that is what is really needed.

But the question now is, what happens if two or even three organizers file for a permit for the same day? Who gets to have his approved?

Will they consider reserving certain days for local runs that have been part of the calendar—like the Milo Marathon Cebu leg, Don Sergio Osmeña Run and the Cebu City Marathon?

What if another group beats the organizers of those runs in applying for a permit for the days of their events?

These questions, I believe, will be answered on May 4, when the Cebu City Council holds a public hearing on the ordinance.

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