Friday, April 21, 2006

The wrong message

A misleading headline in the Philippine Star's sports section today reads, "UAAP verdict on LaSalle final", making readers think that the UAAP board has already made its decision regarding LaSalle's impending suspension from the coming season. However, the article below the headline says that the board is still in the thick of deliberations, and a board member has only issued a statement saying that whatever they decide at the end will BE final. In other words, LaSalle can forget about appealing, although the head of their Sports Development Office was quoted as saying, "Once the UAAP makes its decision, only then will La Salle make its move." Ooh, is that a threat? We're shaking in our shoes.

First of all, a swift kick to the behind of the editor who let that sloppy headline run. Second, smacks upside the head of each member of the UAAP board for dawdling in resolving an issue that exploded several months ago. What the hell is taking so long? And third, swift kicks to the behind, smacks upside the head, and a hearty "screw you" to all LaSalle officials who intend to protest and even sue if their school gets slapped with the suspension.

Ever since the UAAP board assembled to discuss the LaSalle case, I’ve had a sinking feeling the board is going to chicken out and renege on their proposal to suspend the Archers. Aside from the fact that they’re taking so damn long, there has been mention of concerns about drops in the UAAP’s ticket sales and TV ratings. Admittedly, it really won’t be the same without the “Gang Green” around to play villain/bully. Conflict adds to the thrill of the game, after all, and every blue-blooded Atenean knows the adrenaline rush that comes with screaming at a crowd of cheering LaSallite fans. Perhaps with this in mind, one of our most rabid alumni, Secretary Dick Gordon, who probably enjoys screaming at LaSallite fans more than most, actually sided with the enemy, decrying that a suspension would be too harsh and unfair.

To be thinking about monetary profits and cheap thrills when basic honesty and honor have been compromised is just plain disgraceful, especially considering the UAAP is a collegiate league that should be aiming to develop a sense of sportsmanship and fair play in young athletes, and the board is comprised of educators and priests. Beyond competition and rivalries and championships, this issue is one of morality, one where principles, not to mention the formation of our youth, are at stake. To dismiss the blatant wrong LaSalle did, to let them get away with just a slap on the wrist, is making a mockery of both the UAAP and the entire university system.

Making matters worse is that LaSalle is also handling this whole thing very poorly. You’d think that after this whole Benitez/Gatchalian scandal has marred LaSalle’s reputation as an educational institution, that they’d be more contrite. They actually were, initially. They offered to forfeit their championship titles from the years when they fielded Benitez and Gatchalian, and they even went as far as to voluntarily withdraw from this coming basketball season. But then they took it back it when the UAAP board pointed out that no school can participate in any other sport if it doesn’t have both a basketball team and volleyball team. LaSalle argued that it would be unfair to punish all its varsity teams for the sins of its basketball team, that it would be crushing the dreams of many hopeful young athletes.

Well correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought LaSalle was running a Catholic school, not a sports training camp. What is more important, encouraging students to excel in sports and go for gold, or teaching them morals like honesty and justice? Is LaSalle bent on producing outstanding athletes who can go the distance, or upright individuals who take responsibility for their mistakes?

The UAAP board should quit considering other less valuable factors in this matter and focus on the real issue at hand, which is quite clear-cut: LaSalle fielded ineligible players, and the rules state that this warrants a suspension for the following season. They did something wrong, ergo they should face the consequences. The rules also state that by virtue of the basketball team being suspended, all other sport teams will also have to sit out the season. Someone from the school did something wrong, ergo the whole school pays the price. It’s as simple as that. Is it harsh? Perhaps. But life is harsh, and that’s a lesson LaSalle can now teach its students. Is it fair? It depends. With regard to the other schools, especially Adamson, who was suspended before for a similar offense, it is fair. But if one reasons out that other schools are probably fielding players with questionable eligibility, then maybe it’s not fair. But setting aside harshness and fairness, ultimately, it is RIGHT. Sure, we’ll miss LaSalle, we’ll miss having an antagonist around, someone to jeer at, someone to blame for our sorry losses, the team we love to hate. But this transcends pleasure, malicious or otherwise. This matters more than ticket sales, championship titles or even school pride.

C’mon, you blasted UAAP board members. Enough with the dilly-dallying. Have the balls to do the right thing.


At Sunday, April 23, 2006, Anonymous heidz said...

huh? what happened with dlsu? im soo out of the loop. hahaha what did they do this time specifically? :)

At Sunday, April 23, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Still the same old case about DLSU fielding two players who never graduated from high school. Lots of finger-pointing and hand-washing on DLSU's part. They got what was coming to them. All other schools out there who are engaged in similar dirty tactics should get the same punishment, restore some morality and semblance of righteousness in our university system.


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