Monday, January 23, 2012

Fair Play: Once again, the beef against Kenyans

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Jan. 23)
TWO of our top runners offered a glimpse rarely seen of athletes who are featured in these pages, regularly.

And that is being brutally honest.

The two said they’d rather have this topsy-turvy schedule of fun runs being held simultaneously on a Sunday so they’d have a better chance of getting the money.

For them, having two events in one day is not bad. That way, they can laugh their way to the bank.

I salute them for their honesty. So I shall reward them with a brutal reaction, too.

But first, let me share an e-mail from a Kenyan, who reacted to a couple of columns I wrote regarding local elite runners. After misinterpreting a point in an earlier column, I managed to convey to him what I really meant, so he wrote:

“But you should help your fellow Pinoys to understand that everyone is looking for destiny in this world. Those Kenyan athletes are looking for destiny and better life here,” he wrote.

Yes, our top guys rely on running for a living. But so do the Kenyans. In a way, they can be compared to the Pinoys who work abroad.

But of course, when access to easy money is cut short, so is empathy.

They were honest enough to say two runs are good for them, so I shall be equally honest, too.

It’s hard to sympathize with guys who had it easy a couple of years ago and are crying foul now because they can’t win the way they used to. Hey, did they even wonder how the guys who can’t beat them felt when they kept on winning back then?

If they say they want the Kenyans and other foreign runners banned from the small weekend races so the locals can have a chance to win, then let’s talk, too, about this nasty open secret in local running—that some local elite runners conspire among themselves who will finish first, second or third.

It’s a nasty secret, one that was raised to me by one organizer, “Di man na mu-matter kinsa mudaug, mag-sabotsabot ra man na sila.”

Do our elite runners want the Kenyans banned so they can return to the days when they can fix races?

And if you want an honest assessment, asking for foreigners to be banned is nothing short of racist, and agreeing who finishes first or third is nothing short of fixing a race.

If local elite runners ask that foreigners be banned from small races so they will have a chance to win the prizes, then, I, too, will push that the local elites be banned from small weekend races so the weekend warriors have a chance to win the prizes.

Running has gotten so big, are our local elite runners getting big heads, too? Do they think the running community owes it to them, that they should get a fair shake, that they should win?

That’s not the case.

If I want to get the big scoop would I ask that other reporters be banned from a story that I cover? If SWU wants to win the Cesafi basketball title, would they ask that UV be banned from getting recruits abroad? If a worker wants to get promoted would she or he ask that others be barred from doing a better job?

Or would I, or they, simply strive to be better?

They were honest and so I will be.

I will not support a run or race that will discriminate. I will never support a run or race that will discriminate.

If local elite runners join a race for the sole purpose of winning a prize, then let them organize a race among themselves. Let them raise the prize money, let them run among themselves and let them whine among themselves.

We have been victims, too many times, of discrimination and of racism from people who don’t know better.

Why should we do it to others?

P.S. I heard there are talks of getting the Bureau of Immigration involved in helping stop the Kenyan invasion. If they want to go that way, perhaps we should invite, too, the Bureau of Internal Revenue to check whether our weekly winners are paying taxes?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing this. i hate bigotry no matter the color of the offender. racism is despicable anywhere.