Limpag: DepEd ladder

Fair Play

AT THIS time of the school year, student athletes are busy preparing for the City or Municipal meets after hurdling their district and unit meets. It’s one of the things these athletes look forward to because a title means getting a rung above in the step-ladder competition of the Department of Education.

But unfortunately for some athletes, it is at this point that their dreams are dashed because of some bizarre rules the DepEd implements.

Player selection has always been a touchy affair when it comes to DepEd meets as all officials want to be represented even if their teams lost. I was told that in one solidarity meeting for Region 7 for the Palaro, one coach said he can’t recognize his team anymore because it wasn’t the team he won the regional title with (and subsequently earned a Palaro slot).

Cebu City have long wisened up and left the decision on team composition to the champion coach, a practice that I think has been adopted in the Cviraa.

But that’s not true for all. Take the case of what a DepEd source shared to me. The champion football team in one division will only have three players for the regional meet as the selection has been left to the tournament manager.

If true, this is the strangest criteria I’ve ever heard. I’ve heard of 60-30-10—60 percent from the champion team, 30 from the runner-up and 10 from the second-runner-up—but having a tournament manager make the final composition? That’s very strange.

If that’s true, then why bother holding a city meet at all? Why not hold a simple tryout? Why focus on a championship run if all you have to do is befriend the TM to make it to the next level?

Being represented in the next level, I know, is a touchy subject for DepEd officials. It gets them brownie points and of course, having a representative means a DepEd official has to be there, too. An official travel means allowance and such of course.

The first time I encountered this practice was way back in high school, when in a provincial meet we suddenly had a new teammate. The coach said he was forced to pick up someone from the runner-up. The poor guy rode the bench the whole tournament.

I’ve heard variations of such complaints in all my years in covering DepEd meets, and it was only eliminated when coaches got the final say-so on who makes the team. They know the strengths and weaknesses of their teams and they know who to pick, and sometimes it won’t be the best players on the losing squad.

Tournament managers should run the event, not the team, especially in a sport such as football where chemistry is more important than skills

And this is where I quote my favorite DepEd memo. I wished I saved a copy when I found that gem of a memo years back. It was about the Palaro but this is applicable: The Palaro—or Cviraa—is an athletic competition; we should limit hangers-on who do nothing but visit tourist sites.”

Because if divisions won’t end such practice, they’d have more delegation members who bring home souvenirs and selfies than medals.


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