Note: As part of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) Group tasked to realign sports programs during this time of pandemic, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez shared his thoughts about the recent controversy involving University of Santo Tomas men’s basketball team and its alleged unauthorized training practice in Sorsogon.
Setting our sights right
By PSC chairman Butch Ramirez
Over the weekend, there was a bit of disquiet about the alleged training of a university in Sorsogon. We have received varying reports but we await the result of investigations regarding this. The Philippine Sports Commission recognizes the authority of the University Athletic Associations of the Philippines (UAAP) on this member-team, and we are giving them the chance to clarify matters internally.
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Being a 70-year old teacher and sportsman, I cannot help but mull over this issue. And this is what I wish to share with you who are in or plainly love sports.
This issue brought to fore one glaring reality that we face in the field of sports, as in all other aspects of life – moral challenges.
I remember what a good friend, Fr. Alfonso Suico, CSsR, wrote in his paper entitled “Virtue and the Ethical Problems in Competitive Sports” which said that “virtue ethics considers integrity and character of the athlete herself, a position that can determine the attainment of a goal, which is not (only) the winning of a game, but the flourishing one’s life.”
The flourishing of one’s life. Character and virtue as an equal to winning and achieving.
Without passing judgment, this situation brings to mind a silent but equally worth noting implication. Does winning always mean everything else takes second place? Are we so focused on winning that we are ready to compromise important matters like the safety of the youth we are supposed to guide?
Is the athletic development and achievement, or team readiness more paramount that overstepping bounds, compromising one’s safety or putting your team credibility on the line takes a back seat?
As an elder and leader in Philippine sports, I have a vision for virtues and values to be given equal weight as winning in sports programs. In this vision I see partners in local government units, sports officials and schools – where discipline and character are nurtured outside the home.
It is for this reason that the issue, for me, is much bigger than sports. It touches on a sensitive facet of our society that questions our priorities.
The PSC, being the government arm in sports, and part of a tripartite group (PSC, GAB and DOH) tasked to oversee physical activities in this time of pandemic, is bound to uphold whatever government dictates. We are bound by duty to ensure that government-imposed safety protocols are observed, for the safety of our athletes, and the community they move and live in.
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We cannot overemphasize how important it is to be good followers at this time of our nation’s journey. Just as our strict demand and high standards for good leaders are very much valid, we do our share in ensuring our victory against this health crisis when we decide to be good followers, observing guidelines and moving as one team, community and country.
We made every effort to send home every one of our more than 1,600 national athletes home. Their safety weighs more than any color of honor that continued training may produce. As one famous movie line goes, we live to fight another day.
I believe this sets the tone for all other teams to follow. Safety is priority. Your life, dear athletes, is more important than any medal could ever equal.
We look to our sports officials to keep this prioritized in their decisions that may affect the good health of their athletes.
The government may not be able to monitor all activities, violations or intolerable activities, but as citizens we are all equally responsible for what we do and what we ask others to do for a cause or intention. Let us all care for one another in whatever way we can. If not as citizens, let us do it as brothers and sisters to one another.