Politics and sports will always be strange bedfellows in these parts.
In particular, look at tennis, swimming and volleyball in Duterte country.
In a recent Group 2 clash in the Davis Cup, Thailand destroyed the Philippines, 5-0, putting a humiliating end to the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association’s campaign to ascend to the elite Group 1.
The massacre of a mismatch could be blamed on a turf war involving two factions that supposedly have only the best interests for local tennis, once feared in Asia but now a joke in the continent.
In volleyball, the country’s team to the 2017 Southeast Games in Kuala Lumpur in August is yet to be officially formed.
Worse, the sport’s authorities are reportedly planning to hold another tryout for candidates to the men and women’s teams, four of whom supposedly were inadvertently left out in the early stages of the selection process.
Try overlooking Michael Christian Martinez in choosing the Philippine athlete to represent the country in any world figure skating competition and then watch the ice melt from under the feet of forgetful, probably senile, members of the jury.
In swimming, Ral Rosario, a former two-time Olympian and former Asian Games gold medalist in the 200 meter freestyle, has been tapped to restore order in the sport that is long drowning from internal squabbles.
The Philippines used to be a serious contender in Asian swimming until politicians got involved in many sports as self-proclaimed movers and shakers who held the purse strings to get even a provincial or regional swimming or track and field championship running.
Note basketball or golf tournaments named after politicians and you will see that sports czars are busier in teeing off or making the ceremonial first throw in the company of this congressman or that senator.
Have you heard of a Robert Jaworski Invitational Basketball Tournament or a Lydia de Vega Track and Field Open—of course you have not because there never was one or will be and cross your fingers…
Now comes the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) evidently crossing political, even ideological, lines by announcing recently that they will talk with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for possible participation of young members of MILF families in the annual Batang Pinoy for athletes below 15 years old and their elder counterparts in the Philippine National Games.
PSC chief William Ramirez said “[t]he bottom line is that we want peace, we all want peace and sports can make a difference.”
Right, but Philippine sports honchos are at war and so the PSC perhaps could first put a stop to the geriatric sets throwing game-fixing charges and corruption allegations at each other before going on for “inclusivity” (wow!) in tennis, swimming or volleyball.
Anyway, if everything fails with the MILF, the Moro National Liberation Front or the New People’s Army might be game enough to play politics with the PSC.