Monday, July 20, 2015

Fair Play: SWU gets an A+ with star athletes' failures

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's July 20 edition)
THE LATEST news from the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. shows that after the excitement of the first semester, some players tend to forget why they are in school in the first place when the second semester rolls in.

I’m talking about the latest string of players who won’t be playing this season for forgetting the other part about being a student-athlete, and failing their subjects.


Southwestern University, the defending champion, was hit the hardest as it lost five players, including Fil-Am guard Jason Parker, and the team faces the prospect of only having eight players this season.

This development is not news to SWU officials, because they know how the Cesafi works and the grades in the previous school year’s second semester--when the season has ended--determine whether the players can suit up for the new season.

I wonder if SWU athletic director Ryan Aznar had an epic face palm moment when he saw the grades of his players as he was preparing the team lineup for submission? Or did he have an “I told you so” session with the erring players? The young athletic director, who is the reason behind SWU’s rise in sports these past years, didn’t even bother to include those he knew wouldn’t muster scrutiny by the screening committee.

“I only submitted 10 players because I knew they won’t pass the screening,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Who are they? They are Bernie Bregondo, Daryl Goloran, Rey Mark Acuno, Mupungo Buko and Parker. Just the latest batch to run afoul of academic requirements.

According to Aznar, Parker only earned 14 units last semester—Cesafi requires 15—while the rest flunked some of their subjects.

Ironically, the fact that the SWU players failed to comply with the league’s academic requirements speaks well of the school. Why is that? In Philippine college sports, some schools—even in Cebu—have been known to look for magical solutions to their athletes’ academic woes.

SWU is showing that when it comes to academic requirements, there’s no magic al solution in its system and it means business.

Did the athletes think that their free throw skills or ability to hit that game-winning trey would somehow translate to grades in the classroom? An athletic director, with the school’s backing, can do that.

But for SWU, academic requirement is academic requirement, even if the player disqualified is the second coming of Michael Jordan (Or LeBron James to go along with today’s youth).

And what is the Cesafi’s academic requirements? It’s pretty straight forward: it requires athletes to pass at least 60 percent of his academic units for the previous two semesters. And just like in years past, it’s the second semester that befuddles athletes.

Hmmm?

Is it because in the first semester, when the season is ongoing, the coach can give them daily advice on their studies but in the second semester they’re on their own?

A coach can only do so much, the rest is up to the student athlete.

What a waste. A lot of students would give up an arm and a leg to get what these student athletes squandered, a scholarship.

Perhaps, aside from refresher courses for officials and coaches before the season starts, the member schools—not just Cesafi—should have a refresher course on the league’s academic requirement for their athletes?

That may seem like spoon-feeding for some as student-athletes should know better, but it could prevent the athletic directors from a lot of problems when the new season comes along.

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