A Sona for sports?By Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TODAY, attention will be focused on President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) at the Batasang Pambansa. Like any speech of this magnitude, its points will be scrutinized and analyzed with some praising its contents, and others criticizing the omission or failure of emphasizing specific concerns.
Such is the work of the public figure: A deed in the public domain is always subject to two opinions—your own and that of the audience you addressed.
The annual Sona will definitely not cover Philippine sports as there are many other priorities in our country. But this, perhaps, brings to mind anew the need for sports to be overseen and reviewed by a Cabinet Secretary given the role it plays in health—and national morale-building.
Of course, the sports pages do a splendid job of recapturing the year that was when December comes around. Victories, debacles, controversies and issues are revisited and evaluated. Vibrant text and engaging photos recall the totality of the sports year.
But perhaps a review done by a Sports Secretary after consulting with the Philippine Olympic Committee president and the Philippine Sports Commission chair could be done within a national development framework.
On one hand, performances in Olympic, Asian or Southeast Asian events can be measured along with strides in international competitions of different disciplines.
However, sports programs and the building of sports infrastructure carry as much importance, along with an evaluation of international sports achievements. This requires national support and cooperation between different agencies of government.
Many sports facilities are sprouting throughout the country because of the initiative of local government officials but there is a need for national support for their long-term maintenance.
The national grassroots development programs that seek to find new talents in the provinces could be framed by a Department of Sports in cooperation with the PSC and the POC.
Personally, I feel that the search for new talents should no longer be called a grassroots development program and should be simply labeled as a sports development thrust. However, like most terms that have grown within our culture it seems like “grassroots” development is a term everyone immediately understands.
Demarcation lines may have to be clearly established so that the Department of Sports does not intervene with Olympic efforts in the country since the international Olympic movement frowns on government intervention.
However, a Minister or Secretary of Sports of other countries is a common figure we meet in international events so there is no reason why we should not reconsider one for our purposes.
If that position is established, then a fitting Sona for sports could be heard at an appointed time in the year. Better still, in time, the achievements of sports could find a spot in the President’s Sona.
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