(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Sept 16 edition)
WINNING the overall title in a multi-event meet isn't easy. Just ask the Central Visayas delegation in the Palarong Pambansa, where it has taken up long-term residence at fourth place.
Winning the overall title in a multi-event meet when you're a visiting team is an even harder feat. For the Palaro, the NCR regularly does that every year, but that's because being the National Capital Region, it has a wider base of athletes to choose from, and these athletes are better than most.
For a meet like the Milo Little Olympics Visayas finals, where schools compete as delegations before coming together as a region in the national finals, winning the overall crown is as hard as hard can be. That's why I'm really impressed with what Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu and the University of San Carlos-Basic Education Department have done.
Ateneo won the high school crown and USC won the elementary title--by just two points against Ateneo.
For this one, the school officials and coaches deserve half the credit for the success. If this meet was held in Cebu, the athletes deserve the lion's share of the credit for winning the title, but the latest edition was held in Iloilo and the first step to winning the crown was not done in practice but was done at the desk.
Ateneo and USC had to trim its delegation, choose only the best to send to Iloilo and choose what sport to join. And in both instances, they exercised their judgement very well.
Since the host was new, there were new participants too and the two schools' strengths last year couldn't have carried over to this year but it did, and that tells you a lot about both schools' programs.
And it wasn't just a matter of choosing which sport to join, they had to plan for logistics, too, and that's never easy.
It wasn’t the first time for both schools to win the overall title, USC did it last year, Ateneo did it almost 10 years ago but those were achieved in Cebu, where if they wanted to, they could have fielded athletes in all events.
Just take the case of the meet’s all-time great, the University of Cebu. The 18-time overall champion who made the event its virtual intramurals in the past was a non-entity in this year’s edition, while USC and Ateneo stamped their mark.
I don’t know where Ateneo and USC will display their overall trophy but I hope they show it prominently and put it in a special case. Because this one is special and this one is a nod to the whole community—officials, players, coaches, teachers and parents.