It’s the Olympics once again. Representing the country in Rio de Janeiro is a group of intrepid Filipino athletes who are competing for fame, glory and national pride. With bated breath, we hope that one of them will bring home a gold medal, even though it might be too much to expect.
Our country has participated in the Olympics as well as in regional sports competitions like the Asiad and the SEA Games. It is not for lack of trying and dedication that we invariably score not so encouraging results; but there is something fundamental that defines the way we compete in international sporting competitions. It is the general lack of passion we have for sports; say, the same kind of passion we have for ‘malling’ and texting.
For us to perform well in international sports competitions we must have community-based, grassroots sporting activities and engagements. It does not mean people competing in sports; it means citizens engaging in regular sporting activities for recreation and for good health.
One may point out that we have basketball courts in even the smallest barangays. And basketball is obviously a great passion for many Filipinos. But other than basketball, we do not show much interest in other sporting activities that ordinary folks in other communities get into on a regular basis.
There are 100 million Filipinos, but we have a very shallow bench in terms of selections for competitive sports since a very small percentage of the population are engaged in sports consistently. We do have the Palarong Pambansa that can encourage the young to develop sports-mindedness. But the Palarong Pambansa must also extend its influence further, to the the grassroots level, where the appreciation of sports activities and what they can do to one’s life can be planted and nurtured. Even schools do not put emphasis on sports. Most of the time, it is treated just as an add-on that needs to be fulfilled since it is mandated in the curriculum.
It may take a generation to develop this consciousness about what sports and our active participation in it—not as spectators, but as players—can do for us in terms of recreation and health; thereby expanding the pool of competitors from which we can draw the best performers for contesting in nationa, regional, and international competitions.
Let us all get into sports. It can make a positive difference in our lives. Hopefully, it will also lead to the development of athletes who will finally bring us that much-desired Olympic glory.
Dr. Berino teaches at the Decision Sciences and Innovation Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.