Of lost threads

Originally published in HF Volume 36 Issue 1 

That opportunities lost for hopeful athletes is the resonating truth during this turbulent time of pandemic. Resounding it may be on a bigger picture but the situation of collegiate athletes in the context of DLSU-D remains the same: bleak and isolated, prolonging the timeout of coaches, players, and the sports community as a whole. Indeed, the pandemic has brought a multitude of effects on the collegiate sports scene but to have it prolonged is another case in point—that this too long of a disconnect begs the question: where has the University’s premium for sports has strayed?

It is important for all of us to have the vantage point from where we all sit about the situation of sports in the University before we can move forward, so as to understand the effects of the pandemic and the setbacks that were existent even before the layoff.
Case in point, collegiate sports are not immune to the pandemic as school administrations have been forced to remove the athletic fees following the absence of athletic games. In DLSU-D’s case, no athletic fees are levied by the University for two academic years (AY) now. Considering that finances are required in order to bring collegiate sports back up, it would be an entirely different game for the future sports coordinator in picking up where they left off — especially when everything is not as it used to be.

In effect, less and less athletes are given the opportunities and privileges such as the tuition fee scholarships, leaving several athletes to decide whether to stop their study or handle their own expenses. As a result, Patriots who have a great and medal-producing potential are either pushed to be out-of-school or have already enrolled in a much more affordable university who are probably starting their sports programs now. And since DLSU-D are still not opening tryouts and recruitments, there are no additions to the cast of Patriots in various sports. On top of that, graduating athletes are exiting one by one with no new bloods to live on the campaign, leaving the Patriot barrel to be almost empty. If this continues to be the case for another two years, the Patriots number will definitely dwindle. 

These lost threads of the has-beens and the would-be Patriots are also the story of some coaches who are the core of training our University’s treasured athletes. When the Sports Development Office (SDO) was dissolved, some coaches were displaced to other offices to continue their supplementary services, while some spent a fair amount of time monitoring athletes in the early stages of lockdown remotely. However, since funds were not maintained several coaches were eventually let-go and the athlete-coach’s relationships are either severed or totally dispensed with.

While it is true that no one was exempt from the drawbacks of the pandemic, it is significant to understand that the more time we hold back from premiuming sports, the more chances that our own athletes and coaches would turn elsewhere. 

Moreover, there is a bigger picture that lies behind our pressing situation with the downtrend on budget, athlete quantity, coaches’ privileges, and even the school’s declining tournament subscription, going way before the pandemic struck. When the K-12 curriculum was implemented, the DLSU-D suffered from the low enrollees turnout in the college level that kicked-off a domino effect until the AY of 2018-2019. Scholarships were compromised, good-performing minor teams turned into less-supported clubs, national and international tournaments such as UniGames, Universiade among others were signed-off with, while coaches were forced to do extra work to maintain their pay. These may not mirror the much more devastating effect of the pandemic but we can all see that the past events have caused DLSU-D sports to destabilize for many years.

To note, I share the high hopes of the sports enthusiasts and most especially of the athletes that they will be back on court soon. Along with the plan on reinstituting the SDO as well as the restoration of athletic fees in AY 2022-2023, this may really be a comeback of the season. Relatively, the face-to-face setup return is a leap that we should take for our sports aspirations to be realized – but let’s cross the bridge when we get there. 

Now, rendering collegiate sports as highly imperative is the first step in helping our athletes get the experience and training they need to take their game up to a higher notch. Encouraging our athletes to pursue their training reinforces the importance of sports not just to the pride of the University, but also to the empowerment of our community. To this end, we must acknowledge that the usual attention we give to sports and our athletes is not enough, especially when there’s too much disconnect from our goals and the resources we have. What is needed now is a premium to collegiate sports—the premium it needs and deserves. 

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