Fair Play: A bigger pool of athletes, not Olympians

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's July 23 edition)
THERE is something wrong in Philippine sports, and sadly, most of the leaders either don’t want to address it or are busy pursuing other interests.

People tend to point out a lot that how come tiny nations of eight million people or even less manage to win more medals than a nation of 90 million. Surely, of our 90 million, we have that one gifted athlete who can win an Olympic gold?

Well, if you want to go by population, we are a big country. But if we go by the numbers that really make the comparison between us and other “tiny” nations, we are but a small island struggling against giant nations.

Why is that? Again, we may be a nation of 90 million but how many of our people are into sports? How many of our youth are into sports? What’s our pool of athletes like compared to say, Singapore?

We’d be lucky if a national sports association can have at least a pool of 1,000 to choose its members for the national team. For some, it’s not even close to a hundred, and for a few others, like archery, they choose from the same dozen year in, year out.

So when you have the Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Peping Cojuangco, an aging politician who should have never been appointed as POC chair in the first place, saying that he wants a bigger athlete’s delegation to the Rio Olympics, which is already next year, then we are doomed.

He said that after meeting with the heads of 23 NSAs.

Don’t go wishing for the perfect end-product without improving all the steps from the beginning needed to get there. Don’t dream of Olympians, without dreaming of increasing the number of athletes in the Philippines.

Not elite athletes but kids taking up the sport, and that should be the concerns of the 23 NSAs Peping met.

Archery is an Olympic sport, who do you know is into archery? (No, being a Legolas fan doesn’t count).

That meeting between Peping and the NSA heads, held a year before the Rio Olympics, should have been done after the 2012 fiasco.

Now he’s calling for a bigger delegation of Olympians and so far, we have only one who’s qualified.

Yes, we are doomed.

That line is borrowed from the group of Dodos in Ice Age 1, whose preparation for the end of the world reminds me of the POC-NSA heads meeting.


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