Panes: A vote for DOS

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, February 24, 2014


WITH great interest, I read the STAR’s Joaquin Henson’s article, “Gov’t must put priority on sports.” Published February 19, the popular sports columnist featured PSC Commissioner Jolly Gomez’ report to Senator Bam Aquino which detailed Philippine sports’ need to upgrade its structure by creating a DOS or a Department of Sports.

The apprehension of the Executive Branch as mentioned in the column appears to stem from the financial challenges and burdens of creating a new office. A new bureaucracy would mean a higher payroll figure and other expenses could be added to the national budget but is money or funding really a problem for the Philippine republic? If this country seriously desires international sports prominence and honor, the country’s leadership must exercise the political will to make this happen.

Considering the ongoing exposes of billion peso scam engineered by Madame Janet Napoles and her conspirators and principals and other like activities still under the radar, the ordinary “mamayan” will find the lack of funds to launch a national sports development program an unbelievable excuse. The mind boggling sums which have exchanged hands through the wizardry of corruption are indicative the country is not short of cash. The amounts should have been more than enough. The Philippine republic is undoubtedly a rich country pretending to be impoverished.

The institution of a cabinet level Department of Sports would probably extract from the Department of Education the control of the grassroots sports. This would be an interesting move and could raise controversial issues.

DepEd can always handle PE subjects and general physical education will always be its turf. Specialization, technical knowledge and expertise however belong to another level of instructors of the game. I have seen aspiring DepEd teachers attend a lot of coaching seminars to upgrade their knowledge and skills in the game. The concept and its execution is laudable. These paper credentials bring them points to increase the pay grade but the transition of knowledge from the head to the heart has taken so much time. The process of improvement has been relatively slow.

May I also say not all gentlemen and ladies with bachelor’s degrees, LET passers and PhDs can effectively run a team or a sports department. To expect these academically distinguished persons to learn on the job unnecessarily lengthens the learning curve. Academic titles while great on paper do not translate to success in the arena. These ego-inflating degrees mean nothing in real competition and carry no real weight. It’s not that these credentials are moot. The challenge is to make the credential relevant enough to bring tangible results. Cursory calisthenics, ten minute jogs and routine exercises and even possession of an irrelevant doctorate degree will not be enough. Philippine sports need something more in order to succeed.

The greatest error in the creation of a Department of Sports would make is to believe government is the answer for the success of a national sports program. I believe our noblest intentions would suffer if such were the case. As immense as government’s power is to orchestrate the program in order to achieve the dream so equally great is its capacity to fail. The absolute authority and control of government in sports would produce the effect of a doctorate degree being flaunted during the game. In addition, the empirical evidence of corruption attached to government’s affairs, the ugly head of politics and its unbridled use of power would inescapably hoist the proverbial sword of Damocles hanging over its head. Government alone is not the answer.

To avoid the pitfalls, I would like to think government should use its power to work and enter into mutually beneficial partnerships with the private sector and educational institutions, recognize private and individual initiative. With this partnership, it could provide employment, financial support, incentives and insurance for promising athletes.

This Department of Sports could also provide stimuli to develop and provide a framework to strengthen sports in all levels. It must create excitement. There must be community involvement.

Veterans should be eyed as future consultants, coaches, trainers and support personnel. They must be properly compensated. Promising prospects can rely on their passion, expertise and experience though I would further suggest DOS should upgrade their knowhow and skills with seminars including managing a team. The paradigm shift is necessary.

Eventually DOS should make accredit and professionalize sports managers and make it a desirable profession.

And for private and commercial partners consistently supporting a program and an event or a roster of athletes, the DOS can seek legislation from the legislature granting favoring tax exemption or tax breaks. Did I not say political will? This incentive would attract support of sports aficionados in the business sector and could fortify the partnership.

The prospect of a Department of Sports besides the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the National Sports Associations (NSAs) unfolding for the sake of Philippine sports is truly appealing.

I hope that should his brainchild see the light of day with the support of Congress, the good Commissioner Jolly Gomez would remember to bring his program to Baguio. If baseball and softball are in the package, Baguio, Benguet and the Cordilleras will be ready.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 25, 2014.

Sports

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