Why should sports be political?
WHEN is something “political” in sports? We hear this uttered so loosely and often to describe any of the following:
1. A leadership crises like when two or more factions declare that they are the true leaders of a sports association. This usually results in athletes, the media and all stakeholders utterly confused and frustrated.
2. Selection issues like when an athlete is not named to a team and another usually less qualified gets to go.
3. Financial matters like when there’s no money to send teams to international competitions or to even sustain the basics of day-to-day living of a national athlete.
4. Turf wars like when two or more factions within a sport grunt and grumble that they are the only ones qualified to run training programs.
5. International participation where athletes who are supposed to be going to a sports event somewhere in the world train like crazy but end up being told that, sorry, you aren’t going anywhere because of the first four issues outlined here.
A sports official once said that you can’t take politics out of sports because more often not we choose present or former government officials as leaders. We need their network, financial savvy, backroom skills and negotiating talents to pound out what’s good for sports.
Sometimes we choose a business benefactor that usually simplifies things because the sports association ends up being run like a corporation.
Unfortunately, the business savvy of a few passionate sporting leaders doesn’t immediately work with people so accustomed to their association being run like a government entity.
So what kind of “politics” is in this current row in the Philippine Volleyball Federation?
There are now two factions vying for the leadership role prompting the Philippine Olympic Committee to step in and solve the leadership disagreement. This is disappointing to many volleyball fans because it happens at a time when the game is enjoying immense popularity with two popular leagues and the school tournaments as well.
Caught in the crossfire are two national teams that may end up not being able to participate in the SEA Games in Singapore next year. It’s been a while since the country has been represented properly in the regional volleyball games because in the past the will to see teams through was often not there.
Talking to some of the players who are disappointed that their sport is being hit by sports politics, I told them I am still hopeful that the effort to bring all concerned parties to one table will soon happen and the sport need not suffer at all.
In the spirit of preserving the gains of volleyball over the last decade, I sincerely hope that my optimism is not going to be gobbled up by the politics that many want or like to play.
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