Private support for Dragon Boat Federation
There is a sudden resurgence of interest in sports fueled to a large extent by the major efforts exerted by the three leading television networks and the print media in the continuing quest for ratings and circulation.
As long as the competition is fierce but fair, we’ve absolutely no problem with that because in the end, it’s the viewing public that benefits. This inspires our young people to reach greater heights in human excellence and to believe that they can compete with the best in the world. It also helps our people feel a sense of national pride and encourages them to support our individual athletes and teams.
We were struck by a remark young Japeth Aguilar made when we spoke to him after his fine performance in the game against the NBA superstars. Japeth had an awesome moment when he dunked on Kevin Durant, added another slam for good measure and then played a moment of excellent defense on Kobe Bryant.
Japeth told us he felt ashamed as well as challenged by the way the NBA stars kept dunking on us in the game against the PBA All-Stars and decided he would redeem some Filipino pride by showing them that Filipinos, too, could deliver rim-rattling slam dunks.
In the dying minutes of the Smart Gilas game when the nationals clawed back and players like Chris Paul and even Durant started to feel pressured and got touchy, the crowd began to chant “Defense!” in unison. There was a message in that moment of national togetherness. It was like saying that they came to see the superstars of the NBA perform but deep down in their hearts Smart Gilas was our national team and they wanted to reach out and support them in the clutch.
This is what sports can do for national unity. Pound-for-pound boxing king Manny Pacquiao epitomizes all this and more as he has taken on the best in winning eight world titles in eight different weight divisions.
The chants of “Manny!” when he strode into the court with some 10 minutes to play underscored the worldwide hero status he has earned. This was accentuated when Kobe Bryant ran across the court to warmly embrace and greet Manny before he accompanied him to the NBA stars bench where they scrambled to get his autograph and have pictures taken with him. It showed the world that this comparatively little Filipino had risen to remarkable heights of recognition in the sporting world.
Renowned businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan has gifted our nation with events that give substance to our dreams and fire our imagination. The cost must have been staggering but MVP did not seem to mind. His desire to provide our people with sporting entertainment that brings joy and also imparts meaningful lessons had been fulfilled.
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With the Philippine Olympic Committee beset with petty bickering and internal strife and its leaders running the various National Sports Associations like personal fiefdoms, many of our athletes have to turn to the private sector for help.
The latest victim of POC politics is the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation which continues to be recognized by the International Dragon Boat Federation to the chagrin of the POC officials who wish to place it under the Canoe and Kayaking body which has absolutely nothing to show by way of achievements. This is in stark contrast to the Dragon Boat Federation which produced world champions at the ninth World Championships in Prague in 2009 after also winning gold in the 2007 championships in record-shattering times.
With its athletes, mostly Armed Forces members, denied allowances by the Philippine Sports Commission because of non-recognition by the POC, the Dragon Boat Federation found a willing ally in Cobra Energy Drink and Philippine Airlines, two of the leading companies of businessman Lucio Tan.
Here is a team that won back-to-back world championships in a grueling discipline being ignored by our sports leaders and finding solace in the private sector so they could go for a third world title. To the soft-spoken Michael Ngo of Asia Brewery and our friends from PAL must go the accolades while our so-called sports leaders must bear the shame.