Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bleachers Brew #391 Sen. Cayetano & the UAAP headed for a showdown

This appears in the Monday April 28, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

Headed for a showdown
by rick olivares

Once more the UAAP has shown that it is incapable of making the right decisions.

Their recent stand about not doing away of any of its controversial residency rules and instead pushing its junking until the 2015-16 season is not only a slap to the face of Senator Pia Cayetano and other senators who have called attention to the unconstitutionality of the rules but also the student-athletes and sports fans and logic alike.

One of my sources from the UAAP Board informed me that the body believes that Senator Cayetano will not be able to have Senate Bill #2166, a act that provides for the magna carta of student-athletes, by June as she mentioned during the public hearing held last April 9 at the Philippine Senate. They know it will be passed but whether in time for the new school year -- they do not believe so.

When one league member mentioned the possibility of more temporary restraining orders being slapped on the league to enable the participation of affected athletes, one board member was alleged to have said, “Let them file their TROs then.”

It is an act of defiance by the league as a body with certain individuals or schools looking to punish some of their high school athletes for transferring to another league’s college that doesn’t make any sense to begin with. While the league is said to be looking into curbing excessive recruiting practices it beggars the mind why it has taken them this long to consider this. Instead of addressing concerns or problems this league has passed rules ad infinitum not in the spirit of fairness but by putting them at a disadvantage. Good Lord! And these are the people in charge of molding the young!

The schools that cry foul over the recruitment of their high school athletes should take a long hard look at themselves. For one, by bringing in student-athletes from the provinces aren’t they in essence recruited rather than home grown? I checked with a former UAAP player from Zamboanga and in his hometown school, he was a walk-in. There wasn’t anything offered to him. When this school in Manila recruited him, he was offered a basic allowance and a scholarship. I asked him if he thought that moving from Zamboanga to Manila was a better opportunity for him. “Of course,” he said without hesitation. Moving schools is considered an opportunity regardless whether there was an impetus or not.

In my previous commentary about this, the numbers show that not many of these schools’ high school athletes move up to their own colleges. If there is an extension between one’s high school and college, then why do students need to take entrance exams?

In another case of a hasty decision-making and ill informed planning, the league is also looking to implement a one-foreign player rule effective this season.

I believe there is nothing wrong with having foreign student-athletes on their athletic rosters. Limiting them is a good idea but this soon? That hurts some schools that are entering next school year with a certain mindset.

Removing them is a backward way of thinking especially in this age of globalization. To argue that they hamper the development of local big men is narrow-minded.  Why not impose height limits? Even one per team is good enough. If they insist, then conversely, remove even the imports in the pro league because it also doesn’t help local bigs. Maybe we’ll develop enough local centers to play in FIBA. Why not kick out the multi-national corporations and give the local companies a chance while we are at it?

Yet we chafe when our neighboring countries opine about kicking out or saying the Filipino workers are unwanted. Globalization is here to stay. In our own country, just as K-Pop has become popular so has Marian Rivera in Malaysia. There are sizeable foreign communities making the Philippines their home. We deny them that opportunity yet when we go abroad, we ask for ours. There is just so much hypocrisy going around.

In the United States, during the 1991-92 NCAA season, there were approximately 6,833 international student-athletes (ISAs) on rosters of American colleges. That number nearly tripled in 2007 with 16,063 ISAs spread across the NCAA landscape. And mind you, through the years there have been a number of Filipinos playing in American colleges.

In a Vanderbilt University study, the reason for ISAs is the result of several factors: the emergence of the internet, institutional desire for athletic prestige, and the desirability of diversity. To address this, the US NCAA also came up with rules but more on establishing their amateur status as opposed to professional players. While the US NCAA rules on recruitment and foreign players aren’t perfect, they are better than not having any. Unlike the local counterparts that have so much gray area that it is open to interpretation and misuse.

As it is, the new UAAP season will unfold not just with the usual excitement that sports competition brings but also that ever-growing dark cloud of uncertainty of a league that has long since abandoned the spirit of sportsmanship.


  1. I wonder how the limiting of imports (foreign players) to just one per school would affect those (if at all) with fil-ams and not African imports? E.g. Ball (UP), Newsome (Ateneo), Perkins (Dlsu), etc? If they will be considered as foreigners, then Admu cannot put in the roster its African students in the roster until Newsome has exhausted his eligibility. Same with La Salle; it cannot include Mbala in 2015 unless they remove Perkins. So what happens to Tratter and Sergent too? Naturalization lol? This isn't like the Northern Consolidated of the past where all positions from 1-5 are complete with Americans with 1% pinoy blood. Or will it be?

    What about Amy of ALE? and Sato? Will they be affected by the 1 foreigner rule?

    1. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "foreigner" means "someone with no Filipino blood at all".

      Therefore, Newsome and Perkins (half-Filipinos) won't be affected by this if their schools decide to field in foreign players. Ditto with Sato if Amy will be part of the lineup (Sato is half-Filipino).

  2. In the issue of foreign players, I'd have no issues with having only one foreigner per team, but would be against imposing height restrictions, at least for team sports like basketball and volleyball.

  3. Since there is a proposal to have a rule that will limit the number of foreign players per team (I heard from a close contact of mine that it was La Salle's Henry Atayde who came up with it), maybe the UAAP must also have a rule that will control the entry of "Filipino-Americans" into the league for the sake of fairness and balance. Remember the "Fil-Sham" controversy that rocked the PBA many years ago? What if that some teams now do it in the UAAP? Apart from preventing foreigners posing as bogus Filipinos, either due to their "Filipino ancestry" or "having attained Filipino citizenship through technicalities of Philippine law", a rule that will control the entry of "Filipino-Americans" will establish balance between teams that can afford to have them and those that are not that rich when it comes recruitment resources and protect the opportunities that local talent must first gain before foreigners and "Filipino-Americans". Hopefully, this can be raised to other UAAP league officials and to Senator Pia Cayetano.