The battle is lost before it even begins for the Philippines in next month’s 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Some losers in the fiefdoms of the country’s sports czars have predicted that the best of the young Filipino athletes who will compete in the biennial games are only good for fifth place.
In coming up with that fearless forecast (and we hope not with head held high), these aging clueless arbiters just sent the message to younger sportsmen and sportsmen that being mediocre is okay.
It is not okay, because, for one, there are only nine other countries (10, if Timor Leste or East Timor sends a team) that will be taking part in this year’s SEA Games, meaning the Philippines is already a doormat even if it ends up ranked No. 3 or No. 4.
For another and to be sure, who wants to brag about finishing higher than Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos or East Timor?
In your dreams, because its players wound up runner-up to Thailand in 2013 and in many SEA Games past was miles up and away from Team Philippines.
The sports czars, pessimists-cum-doomsayers that they are, remind us of their predecessors in the National Sports Associations telling a few years ago the Philippine delegation to a SEA Games edition then that had returned home that “[a]silver [medal]is as good as [a]gold [medal].”
Alright, they were trying to assuage the wounded pride of those athletes who fell short of top-of-the-podium finishes.
In so doing, however, these apparently well-intentioned pacifiers only made the, well, second-rate competitors the “winners” that they really were not.
Actually, it is their way of saying, Pwede na rin (That will do).
And so, they and their ilk have witnessed the backsliding of Filipino competitors in the SEA Games since 2005, when the Philippines topped the medal table, partly, according to some sore losers, because it was the host.
The worst, between that year and 2015, was two years ago when the country’s best could only land an abysmal seventh place.
FYI: Everybody loves a winner, nobody remembers or will bother to remember who the runner-up, whether in the SEA Games, Olympic Games or some barangay sports festival is.
But, in fact, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discourages participating countries in championships that it sanctions—including the SEA Games—from ranking themselves according to the number of gold, silver and bronze medals they win.
One, however, can’t really stop those high up in the medal table to whoop it up, for national pride that translates to international recognition of good governance, political or athletic.
If they can’t be prevented from tallying those medals to also reflect individual achievements of their athletes, the IOC suggests that they decide who the “winner” of this Olympiad or that Commonwealth Games is by basing it on population (per capita or for each person).
Under the idea, the “champion” is the one that wins 10 gold medals for its two million people, not the one that bags 50 gold medals but whose population is one billion.
Even if the Philippines deferred to the IOC, the country would not even remotely be near the top of the heap, what with local sports lords insisting on a fifth-place destiny for the very best of our do-or-die athletes.
Our boys and girls, surely, will aim for No. 1 in Singapore, nothing less. Go and get them, Team Philippines!