It’s all about performance
The obvious major goal of Philippine sports for 2017 is to do well in the Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia in August. The SEA Games aren’t exactly the gold standard when it comes to measuring athletes’ performance but it gives you an indication of the state of affairs of most sporting associations.
Predictions, some hastily formulated and others based on reasonable statistical measures, will be made on how the Philippines will fare. An overall title and maybe even a top three finish might be too lofty a target.
Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and host Malaysia will probably crowd each other in the top three. The Philippines will need golden performances in almost all disciplines to join that fray.
While we are still solving many of our own sporting problems, other countries are already deep in training, sending athletes to tournaments all over the world and hiring all kinds of professional help to improve. While we are still talking of a grassroots program to feed sports outside of basketball with talent, the rest of the Asean region is already reaping the harvest of their own sports programs.
Understandably, the general tendency is to look at the medal count. A gold no doubt means success but if the athletic performance in swimming or athletics is way below Asian or Olympic standards, then the achievement must be reevaluated properly.
If the athlete shows promise, then an appropriate follow-up program should be developed with the next international tournament in mind. Even silver or bronze medalists should not be dismissed. Often in sports, where judging is involved, an athlete may miss out on a gold but reveal vast potential for the long haul.
Adequate evaluation must override passion. Sports leaders must put in check the view that it’s all right if an athlete fails as long as the athlete fought for the country. How many times have we heard coaches and heads of sports associations claim that their wards gave their all but were either short-changed in the scoring or judging or were victims of the politics of sports?
There is no doubt that Filipino athletes in general are proud to wear the flag on their chests and will do everything to perform well. But the performance must be evaluated long after the joy of victory or the pain of defeat subsides.