UAAP: Change is – should be coming!

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ANGELINE GERVACIO

Last week, I mentioned how it was unusual for the UAAP to hold its beach volleyball tournament from 3 p.m. onwards. During the first week, the matches stretched until midnight, which made me feel bad for the athletes who still have to go to class the next day. I felt the decision to move the games to late afternoon to avoid playing under the heat was antithetical to the essence of beach volleyball, a sport that is played on the sand and under the sun.

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This isn’t the first time that the UAAP made some questionable rules.

When age isn’t just a number
A recent issue that besieged the UAAP was the age restriction rule. It states that the limit is 24 years old and those who will turn 25 during the season are deemed ineligible. Right before this year’s men’s basketball season started, the UAAP Board decided to deny Rob Ricafort’s appeal as he claimed that he will turn 25 by January, when the men’s basketball season concludes. However, the UP forward was able to secure a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the courts, which allowed him to suit up for the Diliman squad.

I believe that the board should discuss the possibility of increasing the age limit considering that the adopted K-12 system will mean older students entering college (unless we start enrolling kids in 1st grade by the time they’re only five years old). This will also result in more playing years for international students required to complete a year of residency before playing for their school.

Freedom to choose
This leads to another controversial rule, however moot, that the league imposed. Before Republic Act No. 10676 or the Student-Athletes Protection Act (SAPA) was passed, a student-athlete may undergo two years of residency when they transfer from their UAAP sanctioned school to a different one. Remember the case of Mikee Bartolome, a two-time juniors MVP who graduated from UST. She took her talents to UP but she was eventually denied to compete during her first year as a Maroon. Like Ricafort, she had to go to the courts to obtain a TRO for a more favorable decision. The Season 76 swim meet did not happen without drama as other athletes who were competing alongside Bartolome opted not to participate.

This prompted our lawmakers to pass the SAPA that states, “Residency requirement shall not be imposed on a student-athlete who is a high school graduate enrolling in a college or university.” This is a better rule, as the old one somehow stifles the students-athletes freedom to pick options for their education.

Stand your ground
Another incoherent UAAP rule concerns with the giving of special awards. I remember during my last year of playing indoor volleyball, the board decided to award two athletes with the season’s MVP award. This move stirred a lot of questions especially among the fans who believe that the award should be given to the best and the only outstanding athlete during the season. In this case, I felt that the board has to put their foot down when it comes to these internal rules and regulations of the league.

I believe the UAAP has the power to change the landscape of collegiate sports in our country and streamlining their rules will be the beginning of wonderful things to come.

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