Stop calling them ‘other sports’
JAKARTA—The fervor for the Philippine basketball and volleyball teams has been understandable given the popularity of these two sports. And yet there was intense interest as well for the exploits of the softball team, taekwondo, wushu and Asian Games gold medal winner Hidilyn Diaz.
Diaz’s conquest of her 53 kilogram weightlifting category shines brightly for a Philippine contingent that remains hopeful for more medals. Her triumph augurs well for future campaigns like another shot at Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020. Her total lift in Jakarta was 207 kilograms, seven kilograms heavier than her 2016 Olympic silver medal total for the combined weights for snatch and clean and jerk.
Weightlifting is not all strength and power but also about tactics and surviving pressure. Lifters have trained hard to hoist the weights in their category but falter somehow in the heat of competition. Diaz’ experience in two Olympiads has kept her in good stead and given her composure for the nerve-wracking duels of her sport.
Diaz’s win underscores the importance of the whole Asian Games program where medals in 42 sports are at stake. While we are rightfully concerned about the single gold medal in basketball and the struggles of the women’s volleyball team, there are other disciplines that need to be given importance, now and in the future.
As much as we treasure Diaz, her reign is not for all time. As we say nowadays, walang forever (there’s no forever). There is a need to rethink the potential, training and exposure of many more athletes in disciplines outside of the popular ones. There’s more than a fistful of medals to be won in multisports events.
A tweet we posted from Jakarta got over 84,000 impressions. I said, “In the Philippines, we should really stop calling sports outside of basketball, volleyball and boxing as “other sports.” It’s a letdown for athletes in many disciplines who are trying so hard under difficult contexts.”
This could be our starting point by not clumping together sports outside of closely followed ones as simply also-rans. Nevertheless, it will take a lot of effort from events producers and media outlets to encourage crowd support and sponsor involvement for sports that may not have such a huge following.
Maybe we could start with our own Palarong Pambansa by supporting athletes who are struggling with difficult challenges and contexts.
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