MANILA, Philippines -- William "Butch" Ramirez, the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), gave his thoughts on the controversy that is currently swirling around University of Santo Tomas (UST) and its men's basketball team.
The much-publicized departure of former team captain CJ Cansino has wide-reaching repercussions on the UST men's basketball program, as it brought to light the so-called "training bubble" in Sorsogon where the Growling Tigers have apparently been training since June.
UST has already created a committee to probe the issue, and several stakeholders -- the PSC, the UAAP, and the Games and Amusements Board -- are waiting for the university's report. Aldin Ayo, head coach of the UST men's basketball team, has vowed to cooperate with the investigations.
But the idea of a "training bubble" for a university team weighed on the mind of Ramirez, who issued his sentiments on the matter.
Read Ramirez's statement in full, here:
SETTING OUR SIGHTS RIGHT
"Over the weekend, there was a bit of disquiet about the alleged training of a university in Sorsogon. We have received varying reports but we await the result of investigations regarding this. The Philippine Sports Commission recognizes the authority of the University Athletic Associations of the Philippines (UAAP) on this member-team, and we are giving them the chance to clarify matters internally.
"Being a 70-year old teacher and sportsman, I cannot help but mull over this issue. And this is what I wish to share with you who are in or plainly love sports.
"This issue brought to fore one glaring reality that we face in the field of sports, as in all other aspects of life -- moral challenges.
"I remember what a good friend, Fr. Alfonso Suico, CSsR, wrote in his paper entitled 'Virtue and the Ethical Problems in Competitive Sports' which said that 'virtue ethics considers integrity and character of the athlete herself, a position that can determine the attainment of a goal, which is not (only) the winning of a game, but the flourishing one’s life.'
"The flourishing of one’s life. Character and virtue as an equal to winning and achieving.
"Without passing judgment, this situation brings to mind a silent but equally worth noting implication. Does winning always mean everything else takes second place? Are we so focused on winning that we are ready to compromise important matters like the safety of the youth we are supposed to guide?
"Is the athletic development and achievement, or team readiness more paramount that overstepping bounds, compromising one’s safety or putting your team credibility on the line takes a back seat?
"As an elder and leader in Philippine sports, I have a vision for virtues and values to be given equal weight as winning in sports programs. In this vision I see partners in local government units, sports officials and schools – where discipline and character are nurtured outside the home.
"It is for this reason that the issue, for me, is much bigger than sports. It touches on a sensitive facet of our society that questions our priorities.
"The PSC, being the government arm in sports, and part of tripartite group (PSC, GAB and DOH) tasked to oversee physical activities in this time of pandemic, is bound to uphold whatever government dictates. We are bound by duty to ensure that government-imposed safety protocols are observed, for the safety of our athletes, and the community they move and live in.
"We cannot overemphasize how important it is to be good followers at this time of our nation’s journey. Just as our strict demand and high standards for good leaders are very much valid, we do our share in ensuring our victory against this health crisis when we decide to be good followers observing guidelines and moving as one team, community and country.
"We made every effort to send home every one of our more than 1,600 national athletes home. Their safety weighs more than any color of honor that continued training may produce. As one famous movie line goes, we live to fight another day.
"I believe this sets the tone for all other teams to follow. Safety is priority. Your life, dear athletes, is more important than any medal could ever equal.
"We look to our sports officials to keep this prioritized in their decisions that may affect the good health of their athletes.
"The government may not be able to monitor all activities, violations or actions, but as citizens we are all equally responsible for what we do and what we ask others to do for a cause or intention. Let us all care for one another in whatever way we can. If not as citizens, let us do it as brothers and sisters to one another."
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