Do We Laugh or Cry?

By: Buddy Resurreccion

Inquirer Golf Monthly, 29 April 2018

Buddy was my classmate in PMA ’78. He was the Editor-in Chief of the Corps Magazine during our senior year. He now writes for the Inquirer Golf. In his column reprinted here, he voices his fears over the goings-on in Philippine Sports.  

I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

The biggest news coming of Philippine sports these days is that Peping Cojuangco lost in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) elections. After holding sway over the National Sports Associations (NSA) for 13 years and winning election after election, albeit some through controversial means, the ouster of Cojuangco from power has elated a lot of sports enthusiasts.

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The Turn-over Ceremony at the POC. (Inquirer Sports)

There are those who see this as a new dawn in Philippine sports. They see it as the start of a new era that will bring sports in our country to greater heights. (Read: A Bright New Day for Philippine Sports)

As I said, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It would be easy to join in the celebration. It was fulfilling to see the guy go. Our participations in international sporting events have been nothing but disasters lately and the perception is that Cojuangco has done nothing substantive to arrest that downward trend.

The problem is that Cojuangco is a politician. He will always be a politician. He may be interested in sports but he is not a sportsman in the truest sense. Nor was he a visionary — leading us and building a system that would produce winning athletes to make us proud.

The struggle for him then was not the struggle of Philippine sports to excel and bring honor to the country. The struggle of Peping Cojuangco was how to stay in power and buttress his position as President of the POC. (Read: Unmasking the Philippine Sports Mafia)

It was an ego trip. He doesn’t really care where we end up in the final medal tally of the SEA Games or the Asian Games. He doesn’t care if we never win a gold in the Olympics. He doesn’t care about where Philippine sports is headed.

How can I say that? Well, if Cojuangco really cared, he would have acted differently. We would have seen his commitment and selflessness. We would have benefitted from his service. We would have felt his leadership. We would be in a vastly different place today. Has he left Philippine sports in a better place than when he took over?

We need to look at what the guy has or has not accomplished. We definitely should not just base our judgement of him with what he claims or blabbers or pontificates. The fact that we deteriorated under his watch means the future of his daughter as our country’s lifetime representative to the IOC is more important for him than the future of our athletes.

What Cojuangco does care about is the loyalty of the Presidents of the NSAs when it is time for the POC elections. Winning the political battles and outmaneuvering the opponents in the internecine politics of the NSAs matters more to him than winning gold medals for the country.

So, to have him out is good for Philippine sports. Ummmm maybe…

Forgive my pessimism. I really need to be more hopeful. I actually WANT to be hopeful. But come to think of it, what has really changed?

The top honcho may have been deposed. Peping is out but let me remind you that he lost the election 24 to 15. The means that he has 15 NSA presidents that still support him. He then has the means and he does have the money to throw a wrench into anything the POC plans to do. (Read: The Fight to Liberate Philippine Sports Continues)

The old boys club in Philippine sports still exists. Their tentacles continue to squeeze the life from our athletes who soldier on despite the failure of leadership, the inadequate equipment and the lack of support that adversely affects their efforts to make our countrymen proud.

As long as our sports leaders turn to politicians and oligarchs and businessmen and make them Presidents of our National Sports Associations in the hope that the money and power that these people wield will develop their sports, there is no hope. Sports in our country will continue to be subject to the whims and caprices of petty politics and ego-driven politicians.

The real problem of sports in our country is that the people who really care about sports don’t have money, while the people who have money don’t really care about sports.

I think I should just cry for Philippine sports…

(Note: It has been months since the takeover of the new POC. There has still been no action on the complaints against the old POC. The public, the athletes are watching.)

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