I love sports.
But more and more, I find myself hating the state of sports.
You might say, "Oh, he’s off on another crusade."
Well, maybe I am. And let the chips fall wherever they may for here’s another broadside directed to the powers that be.
Last weekend, I watched a powerhouse of a high school basketball team lose a match. It happens. And that is why the game is played because you’ll never know when upsets can happen.
For the nth time, I saw a team crash and burn. They had their open looks; the shots just wouldn’t fall. Some regulars played bad and it told heavily on their fortunes. As for the players, they got chewed out during the game, at the half, and after the game.
Outside the gym, the players lined up like they were going to confession each awaiting their turn not to receive penance but a severe tongue-lashing. Luckily, they weren’t in their gym for I learned that some of the players not only get bawled out but also are physically hurt by the coaching staff during practices. Apparently, there’s pressure on them to win, especially with a lot of money being funneled for their program. The mania to win stresses out the players. And we forget that these are kids! Some who aren’t even old enough to get a driver’s license.
Sometime late last year, I had lunch with some basketball players from a different team including some who had already left school. One of them informed me that he skipped out his final year of eligibility because he couldn’t take the pressure of team management and alumni telling him day in and out that he had to win and shouldn’t allow this other team to win.
The players who were left behind bore the brunt of expectations, pressure, and castigations.
I also saw some people coming in looking for some players to sign. The funny thing is – they aren’t even coaches but agents! The last thing the college game needs are sports agents. Let them stick to the pros. Not while they are in school. Imagine signing all the players of one college team signed to a management team! It is ridiculous. Why don’t we adopt professional rules since it is only amateur in theory?
How about this team where the players were offered pot money to win a championship. For the second year running! What makes it worse is some of the grades of the players were doctored so they could play.
The last time I was invited to the Senate to shed light on the controversial eligibility rules that have plagued collegiate sports, I dropped a bombshell where student-athletes who are dropped from varsity status have their scholarships taken back by the school. Let me be clear about this. Their removal from the team doesn’t necessarily mean they committed some grievous offense. It could be simply, the coaches dropped them in favor of other players.
So why recruit them in the first place?
One kid was moving to another college after spending high school in a rival school. His college had no intention of recruiting him but wanted to deny him a chance to go to a rival school that could sure use a player of his talents.
Most recently, while speaking to some of the players who made the All-Star Game roster of the NBTC, they were afraid to say where they really wanted to go for college for fear of reprisals from their high school.
It left me shaking my head in anger.
Years ago, I wrote a story about some football players going home having picked up all sorts of vices that when they returned to their provinces they were changed men – drunkards, drifters, and drug addicts. At the same time, the schools hold them in bondage with these release papers and unconstitutional transfer rules.
For every great sports story there are quite a few more that need to be told. But there’s a dark side to it all that needs to be exposed.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.