Schools have final say whether student-athletes can return to training, says academic

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Sep 11 2020 05:59 AM

Even if the return-to-train guidelines for college student-athletes crafted by the Commission on Higher Education are done, universities and colleges will still have the ultimate say whether or not to enforce them, UP-Diliman College of Human Kinetics dean Francisco Diaz said.

“Of course, the policies of the management of universities and schools will come into play. They are the ones who will have to implement the health protocols since the COVID-19 pandemic is still present,” Diaz said Thursday.

“Even with the CHED guidelines and approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (in charge of the virus crisis), kung ayaw ng school papuntahin iyong mga athletes kasi wala silang face-to-face classes, susundin pa rin dapat iyon. (If the school does not allow the athletes to train because they still have no face-to-face classes, that policy will have to be followed),” he added.

The dean said this position by schools was understandable because “even while we see the flattening of the curve of COVID-19 infections, the numbers are still there.”

Diaz and FEU athletic director Mark Molina were among the resource persons tapped by CHED chairman Prospero Molina as members of the technical working group headed by CHED executive director Atty. Cinderella Filipina Benitez-Jaro that will come up with the guidelines so that college athletes can resume actual training.

De Vera bared the plans in a press briefing last Monday that would pave the way for varsity players, including those 21 years old and below who have been confined at home due to the government restrictions covering the pandemic. 

“Actually we have a third one in UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, but he will be around on a consultative basis so he can help the TWG draw up the implementing rules and regulations once these guidelines are done,” Diaz said.

Rather than starting from scratch, the UP school official said the group can draw from the best practices of the pro leagues, such as the PBA or the PFL, in “harmonizing and synchronizing the guidelines that we want to craft for the collegiate leagues.

“We will tweak them so that they will be doable and feasible for our collegiate student-athletes,” Diaz said.

He added that the rules laid down in the Joint Administrative Order issued by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, Department of Health and IATF last July “will serve as our anchor for the TWG in drawing up the omnibus guidelines.”

Diaz shared the sentiments of the CHED chairman on the challenges of formulating the quarantine and health protocols for the student athletes.

“As the CHED chairman said, one of the challenges is that the guidelines need to be sports specific while the other is the proper monitoring of these student-athletes once they begin training,” he said. 

“But as we said we are now working on nothing because everything is already there.

“All we need is to align and harmonize these best practices drawn from the leagues, as well as those from the different international sports federations. Mahirap na trabaho, pero kaya naman gawin (It’s a tough job, but it can be done).”

Speaking personally, Diaz said that the 2 to 3-week time frame that De Vera gave in finishing the guidelines “is quite optimistic and might take a bit longer.”

He told his own coaches and student-athletes at UP Diliman who are eager to get back to the gym that, “in the meantime, let’s just wait patiently until the rules are made and not jump the gun so that we can return to training in the proper manner.”