Pages: Silver-silver for golden SWU?

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Monday, December 16, 2013


JONAS is dead. Only 16, he is forever gone. Not by accident. Not by disease. Not by Yolanda or some type of calamity or 7.2 earthquake — but because of this cruel sport that may not be for kids.

Jonas Joshua Garcia wasn’t supposed to box. It was his twin brother Ralph Raven who was set to join the regional meet of Central Luzon. A fourth year high school student from Bulacan, Garcia competed in the CLRAA boxing event. In the first round, his nose bled. Go on, he was told. In Round 2, he felt dizzy and the bloody game was stopped.

But it was too late. Rushed to the hospital, he turned comatose. Days later, DepEd announced the most painful of broadcasts: he’s gone.

Boxing has not been scrapped from the 2014 Palarong Pambansa. Not yet. It may be. Maybe for the special reason to honor the memory of Garcia, it should be.

Today, boxing is under immense DepEd scrutiny, declares the Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali. According to reports, boxing is not the only sport that is being examined for being unsafe to youngsters. Also under threat are taekwondo, wushu, arnis and wrestling.

This may be an overreaction. But this is valid. A parent’s loss can never be recovered. This incident should be debated upon. It often takes a painful moment for the public to pause, reflect and study. Should children do combat via full contact sports? Pacquiao was 14 when he started. But he’s Pacquiao. Is boxing too dangerous for children at such a fragile age?

Let’s examine what the U.S. and other developed nations do. At what age is boxing allowed? What additional safety gear do they wear? Our referees and officials and doctors manning these bouts: how qualified are they?

If our rules get stricter because of this death, the next challenge is enforcement.

You know the saying, “The Philippines has so many laws. Our problem is implementing all of them.”

This case is similar. If boxing isn’t banned, as the congressman from Sarangani says it shouldn’t, then how do we ensure, in every town or mall or school, that it won’t kill again?

PCCL. Coach Yayoy was realistic. When you’ve coached basketball for over three decades, you know the odds. He knew the odds did not favor his SWU versus De La Salle University.

True enough, in yesterday’s first quarter, SWU scored eight points against the 21 from DLSU. After a 13-all split in the 2nd quarter, it was another blowout in the 3rd: La Salle made 20 points; Southwestern only 11. By the start of the 4th quarter — the time when I arrived home to catch the final minutes — the Green Archers led by 22 points.

It was game over by then.

It was not until the fourth quarter when SWU played all-out, aggressive and attacking.

But it was too late. They cut the lead to nine but it wasn’t enough. Final score: 64-54.

Still, it’s only Game 1. There’s still today’s second encounter — a meeting the Cebuanos hope won’t be the last. If, miraculously, SWU wins to tie the PCCL Finals series, Game 3 is tomorrow.

IF. That’s a big “if” we can steal one game. Actually, we did. In the preliminary rounds, we defeated the same Taft Ave.-based school. Only this time, the UAAP champions were focused and relentless.

Even if we lose today, SWU will come home as proud warriors. They’ll stand tall with necks straight-up — just like a mighty cobra. These Cobras did Cebu proud. Losing finalists in a heart-breaking Cesafi final against UV here at the Cebu Coliseum, this squad was not given a chance to advance in the PCCL.

“We already have a ticket tomorrow morning,” Coach Yayoy said a few days ago, right after they defeated FEU in the semifinals. “I told the boys, we haven’t even arrived yet but they’re already sending us home.”

That’s a witty statement from Provincial Board Member Raul Alcoseba. Sadly, they might be sent home tomorrow if they lose today.

Silver in Cesafi; silver in the PCCL? We hope not for the gold-colored Cobras.

(www.pages.ph)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 17, 2013.

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