Wrong Parameter of Success

Commissioner Jolly Gomez of the Philippine Sports Commission proudly announced recently that despite the meager output of 29 golds, 34 silvers, and 38 bronzes in last year’s 27th South East Asian Games, we were a big success. He attributed the success by introducing a new performance metrics – the ratio of medals to number of delegates.

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At the opening ceremony of the 27th SEA Games (courtesy of http://www.ph.sports.yahoo.com)

Gomez proudly highlighted that by sending only 210 athletes and bagging 134 medals, the Philippines actually had a 63.8% success rate, the highest ratio we’ve ever had of medals to number of delegates. That’s something we should be proud of?

Dedicating the team's performance to our Yolanda victims. (Courtesy of www.philstar.com)
Dedicating the team’s performance to our Yolanda victims. (Courtesy of http://www.philstar.com)

Frankly,  I’ve never heard of any other country use this as a parameter of success. I’ve always believed that in order for our athletes to develop, you have to send them abroad for more training and competition. Our athletes need those competitions to gain experience with stronger challenges in international forays. It simply defies logic for one to get to championship level without going through these traditional rituals of learning and losing some and returning to do battle again.

Boxing, a sport Pinoys used to lord over. (Courtesy of www.tnp.sg)
Boxing, a sport Pinoys used to lord over. (Courtesy of http://www.tnp.sg)

We know we can’t get to college unless you finish high school. We cannot disregard traditional growth and pray for miracles for our native talents to reach international standards without the benefit of foreign competitions and new fitness practices.

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Boxing’s Josie Gabuco, one of our shining lights. (Courtesy of http://www.freedistrict.com)

Hence, the number of delegates should be a mix of veterans and promising newbies ready to take over as the country’s next batch of sports heroes. Countries with strong sports programs try to max out the number of delegates not just to win, but to learn and develop their athletes. Sadly, that ratio suggested by the PSC is a never-heard-of metrics that simply doesn’t work.

The Philippine flag among the rest of the SEA Games participating countries. (Courtesy of www.gmanetwork.com)
The Philippine flag among the rest of the SEA Games participating countries. (Courtesy of http://www.gmanetwork.com)

What the PSC is teaching us is a distorted sense of value. That 63.8% success rate is a win, not for sports development in general, but for the budget managers alone. Which leads me to ask: what really is the priority of the PSC, is it really to develop our athletes?  If so, why do we need to scrimp on our athletes’ development?

Basketball, still proudly Pinoy. (Courtesy of www.redsports.sg)
Basketball, still proudly Pinoy. (Courtesy of http://www.redsports.sg)

If we are to base success on the ratio of medals to delegates, PSC should probably send only 1 representative to the Asiad. Someone who is a clear winner. If he wins, then we have a 100% success rate! Then we can proclaim to the whole wide world what a big success our sports program has been!!

For more on this, please read: Philippines Suffers Worst -Ever Finish in South East Asian Games

(Other pics courtesy of http://www.gmanetwork.com, http://www.philstar.com, http://www.news.asiaone.com, ww.zimbio.com, http://www.dojodrifter.com, http://www.philnews.com, http://www.sundaily.my)

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