For the UAAP, it’s a race to the finish
The face mask, the lingering symbol of a pandemic that had sidelined the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) for nearly two years, wasn’t enough to hide the hopeful smile of lawyer Rebo Saguisag late Friday afternoon.
“That would mean the world to me, for what it would also mean to the world,” the UAAP executive director told the Inquirer.
As the UAAP announced it was finally ready to start, with all eight member schools participating in at least three events, Saguisag, a former commissioner of the varsity league’s basketball tournament, said that it wasn’t just a matter of reopening the league, but also seeing it to the finish.
“We’re confident we’re doing enough to make sure that we don’t just start the tournament, because it also matters a lot that we finish it,” he said.
In a press conference in Pasig City, Saguisag told journalists that “people have said sports is a barometer of the health of a nation,” and that making sure the UAAP finishes this season unhampered is crucial not just for the league but also for what the goal represents—a chance at normal living, no matter how many alterations the pandemic has put on that normalcy.
Saguisag’s optimism stems not just from stringent protocols the UAAP will implement but also from the current hopeful trend the COVID-19 seems to be headed.
“What’s important is that overall, we are following the science here,” Saguisag said. “We’re holding everything in a strict bubble. We will let ourselves be guided by the Department of Health and do everything to make sure the student-athletes are protected.”
A full bubble guarantees the league will remain unaffected should there be pocket surges of infections in the metropolis, Saguisag explained.
But in pushing to an unobstructed finish, Saguisag said the league will continuously “read the room” when faced with a need to decide whether to push on or not.
The UAAP kicks off on March 26 with men’s basketball.