Panes: Their bag of chips

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By Joel Panes

Optic Yellow

Monday, April 21, 2014


IN THE past weeks before annual Easter celebration, I had a chance to speak and chat by social media with a few friends and athletes worth their salt.

One spoke about institutional indifference.

In all honesty, I have no idea how much a full page advertisement would cost. The cost of advertising would be directly dependent on a broadsheet’s circulation, its prestige and the size of the ad itself. A safe estimate may begin from a thousand to as much as a million pesos. Of course, one understands the purpose of advertising that is to inform the public of the products and services being offered. Ultimately, what advertisement seeks to generate is more sales; a higher sales figure means more revenue for the advertiser.

In local Baguio and Benguet, a few journalists covering the sports beat feel that educational institutions take media’s faithful coverage of its athletic events for granted. The interest of universities in sports is merely obligatory. That means, fulfillment of a constitutional and legal mandate is the end. Of course, this is without saying that expenses for varsity games are covered by fees paid by enrollees. Schools must conduct intramurals and leagues. To an academic institution, the perceived institutional mindset toward athletic events is that these are conducted as part of the academic calendar. It is a cursory and token undertaking.

Nothing is abhorrently wrong with the chosen path albeit its blandness. There appears to be something intrinsically disturbing with this attitude. In media’s eyes and consideration, blandness and lackluster cannot be worthy of coverage. Mediocrity and even ordinary is not the benchmark of publication. Dispassionate engagement and performance by local varsity teams do not arouse public interest at all. Local inter-university games are low intensity but in the hype-meter, it slips to almost zero in the face of the national coverage of an event such as the UAAP, after whom the BBEAL derives its inspiration. In short, something 300 kilometres away from these mountain highlands creates more interest than a trophy in local athletic event. Had Shakespeare lived today, he could say this predicament Cordillerans suffers is an irony of ironies.

Media must, in the final analysis still sell papers to the patrons and public in order subsist. In the case of local publishers, its broadsheets or tabloids must still offer consumable news. The annual inter-university BBEAL and any other sports tournament such as the CHESAA are merely events. Save for a few martial arts events, nothing else from the Cordilleras sports consistently elicits oooohs and aaaahs.

Women’s volleyball made waves in the national circuit when it placed second in the National Intercollegiate Volleyball Tournament. Media saw the sport transform from an event to something worthy of public attention. Sadly for Cordillera sports, someone had killed the breeder that made the goose lay the precious egg. Since then, Cordillera volleyball headed south. In the National PRISAA alone, its performance was a shadow of its former self.

Cordilleras’ women’s softball was on a roll. With the same roster it had when it snared the title from powerhouse West Visayas-Central Philippine University, it just lost the honor and distinction of being called national champions. However with its successes in the national circuit, softball had entered the gates of national awareness.

To a certain extent, it had become news worthy. The loss of five tested veterans due to graduation and shortage of equipment notwithstanding, it had lost the breeder who made the goose lay the golden egg. Will it follow volleyball’s lead?

In the realm of sports, the public craves sights of divine athleticism, sheer energy, extreme competitiveness and supremacy in performance. On the other hand, the decimation of ranks, the sinister hand of interference and mediocrity in administration and performance shut the door. These are reasons for many losses such as of patronage. The sports pages of a paper do not glory in mediocre achievements. It is not built to feature sensational material which tabloids are famous for.

Many believe this is the dilemma confronting the local sports beat. There is nothing wrong with universities earnestly desiring media coverage for its athletic events. School administrations may demand attention for media mileage but the issue is whether or not the public ultimately finds the reports worth calling the mother to come home. At this point there reason is weak. The subject of local crowns being retained or gained by another is cursory stories. Eventually, these local stories become stale and ho-hum even if it is basketball or volleyball. Short of capturing national prominence, readers are uninspired.

Local universities conducting sports tournaments owe media something more than offering the customary rivalry and the commitment to its stakeholders to roll out the games. Athletic programs must strive to move hearts of the populace.

The fancy opening rites and somersaults accessorize but excellence, honor and distinction outside the highlands’ boundaries excite the Cordilleran identity and become exciting materials worthy of publication.

Media needs substance, good stories and notable achievements. So far in our jurisdiction, our games and achievements are like a bag of chips. For heaven’s sake, media needs universities to please give them the real meat.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on April 22, 2014.

Sports

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