Philippine Sports Commission hit for sad state of PH team sports
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has come under fire in the Senate for allegedly failing to develop promising Filipino athletes and keeping the sports landscape in a dismal state.
During deliberations on the PSC’s proposed P186.9 million 2015 budget on Tuesday evening, Sen. Pia Cayetano said she found it “ridiculous” that the agency did not consider any team sport a priority, despite the Philippines being a basketball-crazy country and with the popularity of volleyball and football on the rise.
Cayetano pointed out that the PSC’s priorities, meaning those that get bigger budgets, were all individual sports, based on its guidelines.
Other criteria for priority sports are that they should be those where the Filipinos’ characteristics are deemed fit to creating champions, such as sports that don’t require height as an advantage; sports that are by weight category; medal-rich sports; records of performances; potential for winning in international competitions; and capability to implement a mass based or grassroots program.
Cayetano said she understood why individual sports were given priority, considering that it’s cheaper to support one person rather than many, but she said this did not mean that team sports should be excluded from the list.
“People like to see teams compete. I can’t believe that we don’t have a single team sport in this priority,” she said.
The Philippines is very big on basketball, and the nation cheered collectively for its team when it competed at the Fiba Basketball World Cup, she said.
Sen. Francis Escudero, as budget sponsor for the PSC, quoted its chair Ricardo Garcia as saying that the guidelines were in line with the directions given by President Aquino, which were to concentrate on individual sports where the country had a good chance of winning a medal, and taking into account the cost implications of funding a team compared to an individual sport.
But Cayetano found the explanation hard to accept.
“It’s like the PSC chair just pointed a finger to the President and said it’s the President we should now be discussing this with why we don’t have any team sport. That’s impossible. The whole country rooted for our basketball team when they won the right to be represented in Fiba,” she said.
“This is ridiculous. It is ridiculous,” she added.
Escudero said that he agreed with Cayetano.
Delays in allowance, funding
Cayetano also complained about the PSC’s alleged delays in providing allowances and funding support to Filipino athletes, especially those whose sports are not considered priority.
Acting Senate Minority Leader Sen. Vicente Sotto III also criticized the PSC for supposedly failing to support promising Filipino athletes just because they did not belong to its national sports associations (NSAs).
Sotto said the Senate could add a provision in the budget mandating the PSC to support all athletes.
According to Sotto, some of the country’s talented athletes opt out of joining NSAs because of “too much politics” there, and instead opt to train or participate in tournaments on their own.
The PSC should extend support and financial assistance to these athletes especially if they are competing on behalf of the Philippines, Sotto said.
“I don’t think they should confine the support to just NSAs,” he said.
Escudero said the commission had at times supported some athletes who were not part of NSAs, though not regularly.
While there is nothing in its charter that prohibits the sports commission from supporting athletes outside the NSAs, it has concerns, Escudero said. One is that if an athlete does not belong to an NSA, he or she can’t participate in the Asian games and games sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Another concern is that if the PSC supports athletes outside the NSAs on a regular basis, this would open the floodgates and it does not have enough funds as it is to fund those participating in games sanctioned by the IOC.
Escudero, replying to Sotto’s suggestion to add a provision to allow the PSC to support non-NSA athletes, said since the commission receives a subsidy from the national government, the Senate could provide the necessary guidelines on how these funds could be used by the agency.
Sotto also cited incidents where the PSC played a role in blocking or disqualifying Filipino swimmers from international competitions just because they were not members of NSAs.
He said that even if the athletes did not belong to sports associations, they were still competing under the Philippine flag.
Escudero agreed that it was not very Filipino to prevent athletes from competing just because they did not belong to a certain group.
Problem is funding
In a statement, Garcia said, the commission was keeping its “priority sports … where we have the potential to become world champions or Olympic champions.”
“These are sports that don’t require physical advantage like height, which is the case of basketball and volleyball,” said Garcia. “With our limited resources where do you pour your money?”
He added that the sports that brought the country world championship were individual sports like bowling and billiards.
“But we are not neglecting team sports, there are no zero budgets for any sport,” Garcia added.
With regard to Sotto’s lament, Garcia said: “It also goes back to funding.”
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