Panes: August blues

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, March 31, 2014


MARCH has ended for all and so has academic activities for most secondary and tertiary students except for a numbered few. “It’s time to burn the laboratory gowns,” declared one “and head for the beaches.”

Surely, the break will be a long and unorthodox vacation for many whose schools are about to adapt the new academic calendar.

The adoption of the non-June class opening is part of the country’s attempt to integrate with the ASEAN educational system. Envisaged to create new professional opportunities for the internalization of campuses, the University of the Philippines has spearheaded the move; Adamson University and De la Salle University even under a trimestral program are reported to follow suit. Ateneo, UST and FEU which are autonomous universities might enforce the change by 2015. Here in the local front, UP, SLU and UB are shifting to August as the new school opening.

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Without local synchronization, what would the BBEAL sports calendar be? When and how would this be played? In the last decade, the inter-university games’ first leg consisting of indoor games had begun every August of the academic year. The second phase would start after the year-end.

Synchronization or the lack of it is a dilemma in a thick mud pool when game schedules are set. Given now that there are three universities moving forward with the new academic calendar and a few are keeping the status quo, the question arises: should the BBEAL hostilities still begin in August at the time classes commence? If so, this would mean that UP, SLU and UB athletes would be having an abbreviated vacation in order to return to training camp?

Would September or a month after the commencement of classes be enough to prepare athletes to the rigors of competition? Seasoned coaches and trainors would not agree.

Will November, which would be six months from a June class opening, be too distant as to cause competitive anxiety?

The Philippine Military Academy who would probably maintain the same academic calendar may not agree to play the games on the 3rd quarter of the year. Having known as few cadets over the years, this would be time when the cavaliers hit the road for their field operations. Will this lack of cadence among BBEAL institutions be intelligently resolved or will this be the cause for disbanding of the 27 year old Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League?

The determination of the academic eligibility to play among varsity players will become a thorny issue. Under the present dispensation, other than the commencement of the BBEAL’s 28th season, no seasonal technicality should bar the ascertainment which particular player can or cannot play if the BBEAL Technical Committee had set in stone the last term of the passing academic calendar as the basis. By the end of the last semester or trimester of this school year, the student-scholars’ grades will be available for the first leg hostilities and the rosters for the 1st leg can be filled. Under the extraordinarily fluid BBEAL constitution, a varsity player must pass at least half of the units he/she enrolled in the semester prior to the event in order to play.

The shift by the three universities to the new academic calendar and the retention of the old academic calendar produces unique administrative effects and will surely weigh heavily upon coaches and athletes alike. UC which offers a trimestral program will end its 1st term on August. If the games start on September, will the 1st term be the basis of a players’ eligibility or should the eligibility still be determined on the last term of the previous school year?

The ball will be in the hands of the esteemed athletic directors. Of program administrators who have never broken a serious sweat in the real world, they would not understand the toll of time on athletic preparation and the athletes’ body mechanics. Their sole satisfaction is the mere execution and disposal of the tournament without regard for the athlete and their training calendars. They are so detached. The office table is their world and the pen is their instrument. They would not fathom what practice fatigue is. Their epidermal knowledge of the games’ dimensions could negate the quality of athletic preparation and a program itself.

I had a real experience. Years ago, I have heard of someone who had moved to push and enforce that the time to develop skill and competitiveness is sufficient during the semester when the tournament is played. The only miracle I know a “quickie” preparation brings is the miracle of birth. Other than that training under limited time conditions is a platform of mediocrity and pre-covenant with failure.

Of excellence, Aristotle, the great philosopher wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." In real sports, no seasoned coach worth his/her salt would lead his wards without adequate preparation. That would be like escorting lambs to the slaughter. It’s loathsome. From where I’m seated, my eyes see it now.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 01, 2014.

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