Weighing in on “the other sports”

Behind the overwhelming popularity of the country’s darling sports, there is a silent struggle faced by other disciplines which do not receive their dues.

Basketball and volleyball have long been the darlings of the Philippine sports scene. From packed arenas to passionate fans, these sports have captured the nation’s attention and adoration. However, amid the overwhelming popularity of these sports, there is a silent struggle faced by other disciplines that do not receive the attention they deserve. The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) serves as a microcosm of this disparity.

Athletics, swimming, football, and many more disciplines fail to garner the same level of recognition and support in the tournament. The biased focus on a select few sports perpetuates an imbalance in the development and exposure of athletic talents across the country. This was seen with the return of UAAP in Season 84, which primarily featured basketball and volleyball but left the rest of the collegiate athletes guessing as to when they could finally make their return to competition after years of waiting.

And even with their eventual competitive comebacks, these athletes struggled to receive adequate media coverage and recognition, missing out on several opportunities to showcase the rich diversity of talent in the Philippine sports landscape. The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception and interest in sports. Unfortunately, it is this same institution that tends to prioritize basketball and volleyball due to their mass appeal and marketability. 

Moreover, the neglect of other sports perpetuates a vicious cycle. Without sufficient coverage and investment, these sports face difficulties in developing grassroots programs and nurturing young athletes. The limited opportunities and resources available to aspiring athletes in some of the country’s neglected sports hinder the growth of talent pipelines and impede the nation’s ability to compete on a broader sporting stage.

It can’t be denied, though, the existence of the fair share of struggles that local journalists go through to report sports that do not get mainstream attention. From having to be the primary source of information to the lack of facilities from organizers, giving much-deserved props to the greater majority of the nation’s athletes comes with undeserved overhead.

Nonetheless, the underrepresentation of certain sports in the UAAP does not diminish their significance or value. Each sport brings its unique set of skills, athleticism, and strategic nuances. Fully embracing the broader spectrum of sports within the country and giving them more than the bare minimum would foster a more inclusive and holistic sporting culture, where athletes from diverse backgrounds and disciplines can flourish.

To address this issue, there must be a concerted effort to promote and diversify the coverage of sports. By providing equal exposure and support to all UAAP sports, we can celebrate the achievements of athletes across various disciplines and inspire future generations to explore alternative sporting avenues.

Furthermore, stakeholders, including universities, sports organizations, and corporate sponsors, should allocate resources and scholarships to support athletes in neglected sports. By investing in the infrastructure, training facilities, and coaching staff for these sports, we can create an environment that nurtures talent and facilitates the growth of sports beyond basketball and volleyball.

The UAAP, as a prominent platform for collegiate sports, should take a proactive role in addressing this issue. It should strive to allocate equitable resources, media coverage, and exposure to all sports within its purview. By promoting inclusivity and embracing the diversity of sports, the UAAP can pave the way for a more balanced and thriving sporting ecosystem in the Philippines.

The dominance of basketball and volleyball in the UAAP has inadvertently overshadowed other sports. By rectifying this imbalance, we can create an open and diverse sporting landscape that truly represents the rich talent pool of the Philippines. It is high time we shift our gaze beyond the hard courts of basketball and volleyball and give other sports the attention they deserve.

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

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