MOST, if not all, national athletes, also known as elites, just rely on their monthly allowances from the national sports agency, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and from cash incentives when they win medals from prestigious international competitions.
The lists of athletes in various national teams, however, are determined by their respective national sports agencies (NSAs).
Some fortunate athletes also earn extra income from commercial endorsements or TV contracts. The not so lucky ones only have to make do with their monthly stipend from the national government and keep their hopes up in bringing home medals for the country for the possibility of receiving cash bonuses.
When managed properly, national athletes' allowances may be enough for their own needs since board and lodging were usually provided by PSC during pre-pandemic time. But since Covid-19 turned the world upside down in the first quarter of 2020, the national athletes were not spared.
In practice, national athletes don't just keep their allowances for themselves. Most of them usually send a big chunk of what they regularly receive to their families back to their respective towns, cities, and provinces.
As some of their parents and siblings lost jobs during the crisis like other Filipinos did, these elite athletes take it upon themselves to play the breadwinner role in their families. But since most international competitions were scrapped due to Covid-19, the chance of bringing home medals is nil and so is earning extra from cash incentives.
The higher the level or the more prestigious the tournament is, the bigger cash incentives are at stake.
But the cash incentive is just a bonus for most athletes. For most of them, the honor to represent the country takes primary importance. The sacrifices and the discipline they have to endure and go through could and would never be compensated by cash incentives.
Cash incentives reward and recognize athletes for their painstaking efforts in bringing honor and glory to the country. It also gives assurance and security to athletes that they are never forgotten, that they are valued as "heroes and heroines" we are all proud of.
I take this time to salute the city government of Davao and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for recently granting P335,000 worth of cash incentives to 17 Dabawenyo athletes who won medals in the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which the Philippines hosted in 2019. All of the athletes I chatted with were so thankful and happy that they were remembered by the city and were accorded due recognition for their feats.
To the athletes, it was a well-deserved cash incentive.