Sports and Politics is a Bad Mix

Mixing politics with sports is a bad and awful mix that lead to ugly results.

For the first time in 32 years, the University of the Philippines Men’s Basketball Team entered the UAAP Finals. It was a momentous feat achieved by the Fighting Maroons, who, in recent years, languished at the bottom of the team standings, including three seasons when they failed to win a single game. With hopes of ending a 32-year UAAP championship title drought, the UP community are both celebrating history unfolding and rallying behind Paul Desiderio and the rest of the Fighting Maroons.

However, there are some quarters within the university, along with their comrades from Ateneo de Manila University, which has its team going up against UP for title defense, took advantage of the occasion to promote a certain partisan agenda. The student councils of UP and Ateneo, in a joint statement posted on social media, urged spectators of Game One of the UP-Ateneo finals to wear black as a way of “condemning a culture of impunity and misogyny,” a obvious tirade against President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration. Not everyone heeded their call, as the Mall of Asia Arena was an ocean of maroon and blue during Game One, which the Ateneans won in convincing fashion.

While I do not see anything wrong with people’s right to air their views and opinion, I believe that it should be done at the proper venue. Sporting events is not one of them. Mixing politics with sports is a bad and awful mix that leads to ugly results.

During the 1973 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, 11 Israeli athletes and one German policeman were killed by Palestinian militants. It was one of the worst incidents of terrorism committed during the Olympic Games and in the history of sports. The Israeli government, then led by Prime Minister Golda Meir, responded appropriately by dealing with the terror suspects and their leaders appropriately.

We do not have to look beyond our shores to see examples of ugly mix of sports and politics. There was the tug-of-war between the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) over control of Philippine basketball several years ago, which resulted to the suspension of the Philippines from competing in international events by worldbasketball organization FIBA. We are also hearig various sports associations fighting among themselves or within each organization, causing the displacement of athletes and a decrease in their competitiveness during competitions.

Sports events, especially those involving varsity teams, are events that should be free politics. The participating teams must be able to enjoy the fruits of the hard work and their achievement. The supporters of the teams should use the occasion tounite in cheering for them and enjoying the sport. Individuals and entities with a partisan agenda should cease and desist from hijacking sports events and sports, in general, and should choose a more appropriate venue and time to do whatever they want to do.

About the Author
Benedict is an agricultural economist, academician and writer. He has gained experience and expertise in various fields of economics, business, political science and public relations after through professional ventures in the academe, and in the public and private sectors. He has authored or co-authored key publications on topics ranging from agriculture and food security to global affairs and politics.
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