Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fair Play: Cesafi: A Game of Pawns

(This column appears on the Aug. 31 edition of Sun.Star Cebu)

SO THE case between Britt Reroma of USC and Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy ended with the former San Beda College Red Cubs coach issuing an apology to the commissioner.

The problem started with Scott Aying and Cesafi's two-year residency rule, which for me, is one rule that should be scrapped.

Aying studied at Don Bosco Technological Center in 2011 before leaving for San Beda College in 2012. In 2013, when Reroma got the USC high school coaching job, Aying joined his coach.

But instead of treating Aying as a former San Beda player, which he is, Cesafi is treating him as the player who left Don Bosco two years ago and is subjecting him to the ridiculous two-year residency rule.

Aying’s connection with Cesafi ended when he suited up for San Beda in 2012, yet why is he being treated for what he was in 2011?

It’s almost a similar case of that of volleyball player Jade Dionson, a former USPF volleyball player who got to suit up for USJ-R minus the residency rule in 2010. In Dionson’s case, he stopped studying and back then, the Cesafi decided, “A player ceases his connections with a school when he stops schooling (sic). If he decides to transfer to another school and plays for its varsity, (he) can do so without (complying with) the residency (rule).

Dionson stopped studying; hence he was no longer connected with USPF. In Aying’s case, he left Don Bosco, but while he was a San Beda player, he was still connected with Don Bosco? By subjecting him to the residency rule, the league is overlooking the fact that he is a transferee from San Beda, not a transferee from Don Bosco.

Since it's only transferees from one member school to another who have to comply with the Cesafi residency rule, it’s as if 2012 never happened for Aying.

It’s ridiculous. Why? Because for a league made up of school-heads who are supposedly after a student's education, what do these two cases say? Drop out of school, we’ll treat you favorably, but transfer to a non-Cesafi school to continue your studies, and we’ll make your life miserable if you return.

So the league that once waived off the residency rule for college students who have graduated but have one year left and want to transfer to another school for their one-year-and-I'm-done masters degree, shut the door on Aying, whose only offense was to follow his coach.

Aying is just a mere pawn.

Cesafi's eligibility rules have so much gray areas that even the league itself doesn’t know how to interpret it, initially giving Aying the go signal before taking it back.

Poor Coach Reroma, I wonder what he promised Aying when he left Manila for Cebu. Like Aying, Reroma is but a pawn.

And what did the commissioner do? Like Aying and Reroma, the commissioner is but a pawn.

Who was wrong among them?

As pawns go, none. They are but players in a game of pawns and the puppet master is the two-year residency rule. This rule was supposed to discourage player piracy among Cesafi members, not turn the school heads into callous and heartless individuals who get blinded by the Religion of the Two-Year Residency Rule.

Is Aying’s case that of one school pirating another school’s player?

To avoid the trouble, the Cesafi should have asked itself that, because that was the spirit of the rule.

For me, Aying’s case is not that of player piracy, it’s a case of grown men unable to address and recognize a unique situation. And because of that, a student is going to spend the rest of the year in the sidelines for a mistake that isn’t his.

For that, the Cesafi owes Aying an apology.

P.S. Rick Olivares wrote about a similar case in the UAAP, which has now gone to court.  I think whatever the result of that court case in the UAAP will affect not only UAAP but also the Cesafi.  I hope the Bartolomes win. 

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