Thursday, September 16, 2021

Limpag: Changing the POC


I read a rather interesting idea on social media a few days ago, one that made me recall another idea of mine. Someone wrote that what if the Philippine Olympic Committee would have representatives from the Senate and Congress on its executive board, given that it’s the government that funds its athletes.

It was quickly shot down, of course. The POC will quickly run to the IOC screaming of government intervention and we’d be suspended.

You see, ours is a unique sports setup, one that in the past, has shown many people are not aware of. Most think the POC is a government agency. It is not. It’s basically a private organization. It is unique in the sense that its members rely on government funds from the Philippine Sports Commission.

To put it simply, the POC chooses the athletes, and the PSC funds them.

But that’s not why I entertain thoughts on changing the POC.

First, a brief background. The POC is the umbrella organization that covers all of Philippine sports—basketball, football, volleyball and the like. The presidents of the various NSAs (national sports associations) make up the POC, and it is primarily because of that setup that I want it changed.

You see, in all my years of covering politics in sports, one sad thing stands out. Some individuals retain their places in their NSAs not because of what they can contribute to their sport but what they can contribute to the POC hierarchy. That was the reason why Peping Cojuangco stayed at the helm for close to 16 years and why it had to take a court decision to allow Ricky Vargas to run.

Peping had the support of the NSA presidents—the POC family. He didn’t care whether these guys had contributed much to their sports. Just as long as he had their votes.

Of course, I can’t judge the present POC president, Bambol Tolentino, through Peping’s actions, but it is the reality that he operates in.

Besides, it was a Peping-era move that inspired my simple change in the POC. In the past, Peping and company would simply look for a way to disqualify any challengers by finding some obscure rule or making up one.

Why not then require that anyone who wants to run as POC chairman or sit on its board should come from an NSA that has a national step-ladder tournament? That simple rule would make sure that that prospective POC official isn’t just warming his seat in his NSA.

Having a national step-ladder tournament is hard work. It means meeting your regional representatives—or making sure you have one—securing sponsors and venues. You know, things we expect sports leaders to do.

I mean, what national sports association has a presence and events outside of Manila? Basketball? Football? Boxing? Weightlifting?

Shouldn’t we encourage all voting members and all those who want to run the Olympic committee of the Philippines to have a presence all over the country?

For me, that’s one change we can dream of.


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