STRIKEHOME| Change must come to sports

ARGUABLY the world’s most popular basketball league, the National Basketball Association has also a large following in the Philippines where such names as Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James and Jeremy Linn have become household bywords.

Even Clarkson Jordan who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers is a popular subject matter largely because his mother comes from the Philippines.

Years back, the stars were Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and the 5’7” Spud Webb who can the dunk the ball with regularity.

One thing with the NBA is the established parity among the 30 teams from the United States and Canada; any of the teams can make pell-mell of the best teams one day only to struggle against a cellar-dweller the next day.

The only reason why the Golden State and Cleveland Cavaliers are up there on radar is because of the presence of superstars in their line-ups and this is the reason why they are tagged to tangle anew for the championship by June next year.

But there is no taking lightly the 5-time champions San Antonio Spurs who manhandled the Warriors in the opening game. Who knows this maybe another break-out season?

In contrast, the basketball leagues we have in the Philippines have been relegated more to the realm of entertainment than professional competition.

Basketball is simply not tailor-made for the Filipino who does not have the height and the muscle to excel in a tall-man’s game.

But some Manila-based oligarchs thought that by spicing the local leagues with imports or natural Filipinos, we can have something for television and the media to titillate Filipinos by.

In fact, plans have already been drawn to pair NBA cast-off Andray Blatche (a naturalized Filipino) and Clarkson (who holds a Philippine passport) for the FIBA games.

Hope appears to spring eternal for these oligarchs who thought that a Philippine team anchored by the likes of Blatche and Clarkson would eventually reward them with a shot at the Olympics and probably the Olympic title itself.

What these oligarchs do not realize is that while these guys indeed fly the Philippine flag, they are looked upon with ridicule and lack of respect by other nations.

Japan, for instance, has long realized it cannot be a basketball power; but its scientific approach to sports has made it a powerhouse in swimming, athletics, combat sports and ball games other than basketball.

China, a nation teeming with seven-footers like Yao Ming, has also chosen to excel in all sports and has been averaging at least 28 medals in every Olympics it joined.

In contrast, we have only a silver medal in weightlifting to show for all our efforts.

The oligarchs can be part of the change by helping this administration come up with a systematic approach to sports.

Arnis, for instance, has already made it to the world’s capitals from Europe to South America. We have an enabling law that declared it a national sport and Filipino martial art. Given their resources, the oligarchs can help out by lobbying for the inclusion of the sports to the Olympics. Imagine the opportunities this would open to local arnis clubs all over the archipelago.

Imagine the golds our FMA practitioners will reap for this country. Change must also come to sports. (JKL)

Posted in Opinion