Monday, March 17, 2014

Fair Play: Magna Carta for Student Athletes will change PH sports

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's March 17 issue)
I JUST read the proposed Magna Carta for Student Athletes by Sen. Pia Cayetano, which was filed just last March 6, and I think if passed, this will change the landscape in Philippine sports. More importantly, it will force a change in attitude of the people running the schools-based leagues like the UAAP, NCAA and the Cesafi.

Aside from that, the way athletes are treated by public school coaches in the Palarong Pambansa meets will also change.

Among the provisions is that “No student athlete in junior or senior high school be allowed to repeat a year level and play at the  same time.”  I hope in the final version, there won’t be a need to specify the year level and it would include elementary students. 

It may sound strange but there are cases of students repeating a whole year level just so they can continue playing. That’s especially true in DepEd meets, where the age limit for high school used to be 18 years old and you have 15-year-old or 16-year-old juniors and seniors repeating a year level to maximize eligibility.

Why? So they can earn titles for their coach, who then can earn promotion points from these victories.

Another sensitive issue the bill will tackle head on is the residency rule and it bars all associations from applying a residency rule to high school students but allows them to implement it on college athletes.

The penalty is very stiff for those who violate it.

“School officials or representatives who restrict or otherwise prevent the Student-Athlete from transferring to another school shall be terminated.”

Ouch and I think that’s what’s needed.  There have been too many cases of officials preventing students from transferring schools and hiding behind the fact that it’s in their rules.  If the Magna Carta is passed, their happy days are over.

Another issue is the schools’ refusal to release athletes for international meets, which has hounded the basketball and football NSAs lately.

The bill says, “It is the duty of the schools and their officials to allow the Student-Athlete to try out and participate in international competitions where he will represent the country and other national competitions.”  However, the bill also advises NSAs not to schedule tryouts during or close to school competitions.

And lastly, the bill tackles the often-ignored issue of Student-Athlete’s benefits, an issue that gets talked about when those who know the inner-workings meet and compare notes.

“It is the duty of the schools not to offer benefits and incentives to the Student-Athlete to the extent that results in the commercialization of the Student-Athlete.”

The bill proposes to limit the schools offer to tuition, board and lodging, uniform and equipment and a reasonable living allowance, one that could be standardized by the league the school is affiliated with.

That means the practice of giving players allowances that are bigger than a college teacher’s salary is gone, and the absurd practice of parents of marquee players asking for the moon before allowing their sons or daughters to sign with a school will end.

Gone, too, are the days of coaches asking P15 million before they let their players jump leagues would be gone.  With the allowances standardized, small schools may no longer be at a disadvantage.

Like I said, the Magna Carta for Student-Athletes will change Philippine sports and I can’t wait for this bill to be passed.


arielle-cruz said...

School-based competitions are systems that should be promoting amateurism. However, in practice, student-athletes are more like professionals that are getting free education. It's a broken system and it has been broken for decades.

We should just adopt a new system that is based on sports clubs rather than schools. Club, you can regulate as you would any other entity that employs people— using The Labour Code, albeit extended to define rules for professional athletes competing in various age groups.

Let schools worry about teaching students, which is their job anyway. And let sports clubs worry about putting their players through school while training them to become better athletes.

Mike Limpag said...

In a post-season tournament, a coach once said he was having trouble gathering his players for practice as most of them were still on vacation after the sem-break.

That interview happened in December, about three weeks after the second sem started.

MD said...

Mike look closely at case of Gilas 1, after playing for four-five years with their respective schools, it took SBP two more additional years to really make the likes of Casio, Baracael, Barroca Asian-level competitive. So it begs the question, is a College/University really prepping these athletes well? In Patrick Deyto's recent interview with Bob, he realized his weaknesses when he started joining the national team training. So it's disingenuous for schools not to allow student-atheletes to joint NSA programs when they can't provide the best competitive environment to prepare these kids for a professional career in their chosen sport.