Too much cultural baggage?By Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
AS EXPECTED, our sports pages are teeming with postmortems of the failed Philippine London Olympics campaign and the state of sports in the country. Critiques and analyses are hot topics on the social networks. Sports associations are either vocal or mum about the whole hullabaloo.
Pitches for a more organized and feasible sports development framework are being made or retooled for reconsideration. Calls for leadership changes are all around although due process and proper election procedures might be more prudent to do to be fair to current leaders.
But before any new or refurbished program can be installed, should we review, alter or come to terms with many cultural values, quirks or shortcomings that impede our sports development? I do not claim to be a sociologist but have been around sports long enough to sense that there’s so much of who we are as Filipinos that gets in the way of our improving.
It’s just who we are when we do our sports. Here are a few:
Bata-bata. (Patronage) Many politicians support sports willingly but fall into the trap of becoming parent-like to athletes under their wing. When the athlete does not get a slot in the national squad or a ticket to an international meet, the politician uses clout to get the message across that his or her ward was wronged. What usually ensues, especially if the athlete is really good, is a messy public word war.
Napahiya sa harap ng marami (Shamed in public). Our Asian spirits are strong and losing face in public is never acceptable. If our sports efforts are criticized or nitpicked in the public domain, concerned parties fire back, especially if the criticisms are below the belt. A tad more open-mindedness maybe a better route to evaluate criticisms if they are valid or just self serving.
Tampo (Bad feelings). Many behind-the-scenes workers crave for public recognition of their contributions to an athlete’s development. Often, if this is not saluted in public, then ill feelings are bred and often result in defiance. Coaches and patrons whose hearts are in the right places know that their lives are already fulfilled when they get athletes to try their very best. They don’t need to be saluted every time.
Utang na loob (Gratitude) As any Filipino will tell you, this Pinoy value is both a positive and a negative. Positively, the value imposes we rightfully acknowledge the kindness of those who raised, taught or coached us. Conversely, it’s a negative when elders raise hell about young ones who depart from the family home too early or when one’s side is not taken in a family dispute. Wala kang utang na loob! (You have no gratitude) moan the hurting elders.
In sports, patrons often decry the lack of gratitude of athletes who genuinely feel that the time is right to cut athletic umbilical cords or get different coaching. Athletes often end up in a tug of war with their training and competitions being compromised.
A sports program measured by metrics and objectives is definitely needed today. However, before we change anything, we need leadership that will establish and nurture a sports culture that maximizes the best of who we are while managing the baggage that slows down our journey.
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