WATCHING the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in our home country is one emotional roller coaster. We started with jeers, from the fuss over the rubber-band like logo, to the costly cauldron, and to the complaints of hotel mishaps and “kikiam”.
But now we cheer as our athletes are piling one medal after the other. It’s a good time to be proud of our colors and our athletes.
Some say we really ought to cheer all the way, focus on the good, on the athletes, and posting the bad like those mishaps are just dragging our spirits down.
But let’s put it in perspective. Sports is a unifier. We cheer because the athletes, our athletes most especially, are the real stars of this event. They put in sweat, tears, and hours of quiet practice to get to this point.
Sports is not like politics, because the competition in sports is with one’s self, to be the best, or to outshine your previous best.
Let’s also accept what others are saying about sports, and nationalism.
An article by former junior athlete Trudy Gine Amoranto on Rappler, gives a good perspective from the inside of our sports development. She asks, why do we host sports events like the SEA Games? Is it to boost our country as a sports destination? Is it to boast our country’s development?
Amoranto says more than anything else, what is really important is to “develop, sustain, and highlight more Filipino sports heroes on the international and professional level.”
We should consider that the last time our country topped the medal tally in the SEA Games was in 2005, when we hosted the event. After that, we have fallen even to dead last in the eleven-country event (which is held every two years). This shows that sports development was never a priority by the government. Whether this SEA Games is a turning point remains to be seen, as politics is still seen over the exclusion of some athletes for being outspoken, and the controversy over the costs and handling of this year’s event.
We should also add that the construction of the P607-billion sports complex New Clark City has displaced thousands of Aetas in Tarlac.
Sports shouldn’t sacrifice our farms, our indigenous peoples, or even our freedom to express our concerns and views. After all, we are diverse in tribes, in tongues, but we unite, we cheer as one, for the three stars and the sun.