The University Athletic Association of the Philippines, or more commonly known as the UAAP, entered its 79th season last September 3. A huge sporting event that has stretched throughout the decades, it has, no doubt, experienced its fair share of major changes and improvements in its system, especially with the rotation of host schools.
Going through the history
Established in 1938, the UAAP started out with only four schools: University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, National University, and Far Eastern University, which was called Institute of Accountancy back then. The league featured sporting events such as basketball, volleyball, swimming, football, baseball, and track and field. In the first season, UST managed to win in football and swimming while FEU grabbed the throne in basketball.
For the years to come, the UAAP would continue to add more sporting events and schools as it transformed into the country’s most popular collegiate athletic association. In terms of sporting events, Tennis was added in 1949, followed by Softball in 1953. Table Tennis was included during 1978, while Chess was added the season after.
The combat sports of Taekwondo, Judo, and Fencing came during the late 80s and 90s, providing a different sight in the UAAP. Lastly, Beach Volleyball and Ballroom Dancing were introduced in 2007 and 2016, respectively.
Four more schools received permanent memberships to complete the UAAP cast of eight members. These schools are Adamson University and University of the East in 1970, Ateneo de Manila University in 1978, and lastly, De La Salle University in 1986.
Senator Pia Cayetano’s Student-Athletes Protection Act of 2014 changed the culture of the UAAP and student-athletes forever. Before the law, high school student-athletes would have to serve two years worth of residency if they were to play for a different member school of the UAAP upon entering college, a rule that was implemented last 2013. With the act put into place, however, student-athletes may choose which school to represent without the hindrance of residency requirements.
Of dance sports and competition formats
The UAAP has used the Final Four competition format since 1993-1994. The top two teams after the elimination round receive a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals over their lower ranked counterparts. In Season 77 however, the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four was scrapped for the men’s football tournament.
Undefeated teams at the end of the elimination round of their respective events were rewarded a direct spot to the finals and a thrice-to-beat advantage. Another change for the current season, however, is the scrapping of the aforementioned advantage in the finals, which was introduced in 2008. Instead, in such situations, the finals will continue to be a best-of-three series.
Competitive ballroom dancing was also included as a demonstration sport this season. The event was held during the season’s opening day at the Quadricentennial Pavilion of UST in Sampaloc, Manila, where UP gained the honor of being the first champions of the newly added sport as they swept both the Standard and Latin American Categories. Coming in second in both categories was UST, while DLSU and UE placed third in the Standard Category and Latin American Category, respectively.
Singing of school hymns
Besides the addition of the dance sport, a number of changes have been implemented into the events’ systems. One such change involves the singing of school hymns. As a tradition, the school hymns of the competing teams are sung in all UAAP games. However, instead of performing the practice at the conclusion of a match, like in the previous seasons, the school hymns will be sung before the official warm-ups start. ADMU and DLSU however, deemed that their respective songs, Blue Eagle the King and the La Salle Victory Song will be sung in lieu of their respective school hymns.
Changes for this season have received both positive and negative reviews. Despite all of the controversy, particularly with the singing of school hymns, however, fans will still be treated to another adrenaline and action packed edition of the UAAP.