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.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Season for Change: On the PBA and POC

A Season for Change: On the PBA and POC
by rick olivares

At 3:15 on Wednesday, December 20, I, like many other media colleagues, received a message: “FYI, the decision on the election case POC [Philippine OIympic Committee] vs Vargas and Tolentino has been issued today by the Pasig Court stating 1) elections of POC Nov 25 2016 for Chairman and President is null and void. 2) New election to be held Feb 23 2018 for the positions of President and Chairman 3) and to include as candidate Tolentino and Vargas. Finally we have obtained justice. Thank you all.”

The parties concerned are the Philippine Olympic Committee, headed by the incumbent Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. and Ricky Vargas, who heads the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap); and Abraham Tolentino, Philcycling president, who were disqualified during the 2016 POC elections.

These last few days of December, we’ve experienced a cold front that adds to the holiday season atmosphere, but this bit of news sends a cold, cold chill down the spins of the embattled POC while warming the hearts of those who have clamored for the removal of Cojuangco and his confederates.

I spoke with two different people who are involved in national sports and both said that we shouldn’t be worried about intervention from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because this isn’t government intervention but judicial. There is a difference. According to one person knowledgeable of the events, Mr. Peping Cojuangco can try to secure a temporary restraining order or seek help elsewhere, but he figures this will not go to an election as he will step down and seek outside settlement. The other source believes the POC president will battle it out during the elections. He might have the numbers, he opined.

Now this comes on the heels of Chito Narvasa finally stepping down as commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after all the brickbats hurled his way post-PBA draft. My thoughts about that? Whoever will replace Mr. Narvasa will encounter the same problems because you have two big blocs in the league.

Prior to the arrival of these power blocs, each team had one vote. With these blocs now having a number of votes, they can control the way things go. In my opinion, they should return to the one owner, one vote rule. But will they? If they want change, then how do you effect that?

It isn’t a question of leadership but the system. Which is flawed. You fix the system and you have fewer opportunities for one-sided trades, decisions and what not. Otherwise, the commissioner will always be at the mercy of teams whose agenda is to win. Nothing wrong with that now, but the system? You bet there is something wrong. The question now is—who will blink in trying to fix this system if that is what they want?

The system in which our national sports federations are run are deeply flawed. The malaise that has also affected government agencies has found its way into the sports agencies. It is a microcosm of our problems.

Quite frankly, it is sickening. Take a gander at how after every major sporting event, we underachieve and we hear all sorts of horror stories about the lack of funding, corruption, favoritism and feuds. Marathon runner Mary Joy Tabal is one such example of an athlete finding success despite being at odds with her federation. And I assure you there are more. Since his appointment to the Philippine Sports Commission, PBA all-time great Ramon Fernandez has made it a part of his mission to fight the ills of Philippine sports everywhere. He hasn’t shied away from pointing out what is wrong, calling a spade a spade. It is refreshing to see someone take on the system and not be afraid.

Now both parties, the POC and the PBA, have been embroiled in one controversy after another; one scandal after another. I wondered at how the men in charge could stand all these actuations left and right. This is so typical of Filipino leaders who cling on to power. Think of your families and your names, sirs. If I were in your place, I cannot allow my name to be dragged in the mud and on social media like that. And with one scandal or controversy unearthed after the other, I’d think of my children, my name and the legacy I want to leave behind.

I think it is no coincidence that these two events have come at the year’s end. I eagerly wait for the resolutions. And I hate that saying about New Year’s resolutions being broken.

Make it work. Make it happen, gentlemen.

This is your legacy.

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