Manny Pacquiao to Head Philippine Sports Commission

In your dreams (or nightmares, depending).

But now that I have your attention, let me get to the point of this post, which is to jump right into the inevitable finger-pointing bandwagon on our dismal showing in the Beijing Olympics. Not that medal shutouts are anything new to us. The country has failed to win a single medal in any of the past three Olympics (Sydney, Athens and now Beijing).

And with Mongolia winning its first gold at the 2008 Olympics (in judo), the Philippines now holds the dubious record for the most medals without a gold. Even war-torn Afghanistan managed to break into the medal tally.

It’s clearly not the fault our athletes, who have exhibited intense dedication and heart in going up against the world’s best. Neither is it ability, as we have shown talent aplenty in many athletic fields and endeavors, and continue to do so. And we have almost, almost, managed to crash into the Olympic gold medal column a number of times.

Neither is it genetics. Granted, there might be bases for the theory that some countries and/or peoples are physiologically or even culturally predisposed to excel in certain sports. The Kenyans in long-distance running, for example, or the Jamaicans in the sprint events, or the heavy-set Mongolians in grappling contests, like wrestling and judo. But by this reasoning, Pinoys have proven themselves to be masterful in sports where raw power is less a factor than speed, agility and cunning, like boxing. Yet our lone boxing bet lost in his very first elimination bout.

Nor is it just a matter of scant resources or an inadequate talent pool. Note that countries smaller, poorer or more politically-unstable than the Philippines, like Mongolia and war-ravaged Afghanistan, had no problem grabbing medals. Or in the case of Jamaica, a whole clutch of gold medallions.

It’s simple. Our failure to show is plainly a consequence of the corruption and blatant politicking so prevalent in all of our undertakings.

If only a fraction of the hundreds of millions lost to crooked deals, like the fertilizer fund scam, were given over for the training and sustenance of our athletes, they wouldn’t have to literally go begging for funds just to survive. They have to rely on the kindness of strangers and corporate sponsors just to get the proper gear and requisite international exposure. A fortunate few are well off enough to finance themselves. None but token help would be forthcoming from the government, which only promises a slew of rewards come competition time as a show of so-called “support”.

It’s been the same old story for so many decades. Our fractious national sports associations (NSAs) are less vehicles for the advancement of games and their athletes than platforms for political and financial aggrandizement. Scandal and strife are rampant. Even in basketball, which we can never even hope to dominate in a million years (even if we compete in Asia only), there are two competing NSAs, the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). Talk about a house divided.

And maybe a sense of national commitment and pride is also lacking in us. It’s doesn’t appear to be a matter of national shame that we laid a big fat egg in Beijing. If we don’t give a shit, then we probably don’t deserve the gold.

So the title of this post doesn’t seem to be so far-fetched after all. At least Manny Pacquiao has proven himself to be truly world-class. He’s street smart and savvy and, from all indications, seems to be a true patriot. And he can’t possibly do any worse than what our supposed sports leaders have already done so far. Which is lead us nowhere.

And if you think I’m being overly pessimistic, check out the Wiki page and website of the Philippine Sports Commission, which is the government agency tasked to develop sports in the country. There’s literally nothing of substance there. Not a damn thing.

William “Butch” Ramirez, chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, calls for everyone to step down–including himself– who may be responsible for the sorry state of Philippine sports, specially the heads of NSAs. It’s about time. Too late to do us any good as far as this Olympics is concerned though.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is “not happy” with the country’s Olympic medal shutout in Beijing. As if she, and her inept minions, are not largely responsible for the whole mess in the first place.

Zero for us, while our neighbors bring home a bunch of medals.

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