Institutionalizing sports

A few weeks ago, sports finally got into the conversation in the race for the governorship in May. Sure, Gov. Gwen Garcia, the incumbent, or the reigning in sports parlance, mentioned it when she visited Carcar City’s new stadium just before Odette hit, asking anyone who listened who could dare stop Carcar from hosting the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa). The answer to that came 18 months beforehand, when Capitol stopped Cebu Province from joining the Cviraa.

So I thought, naah. Not much of a topic.

BEST-EVER. The Governor’s Cup basketball tournament, run by the Cebu Province Sports Commission, under then Gov. Hilario Davide III, was one of the most successful LGU-initiated event in the country.

A few weeks ago, the challenger Ace Durano talked about sports when Al Solis and his group announced their support for the former tourism secretary. There was the usual babble and of course, I’m not going to talk about that.

They mentioned a basketball tournament and that’s what I want to discuss or something like it.

The two best province-wide sports events in the country in the past decade all happened in Cebu—the Gov. Gwen Garcia Unity Women’s Volleyball tournament and the Governor’s Cup basketball tournament under Hilario Davide. I tell you, those two events were the envy of others.

The problem is each got canned when a new admin took over.

Durano talked about a grassroots program but I hope, whoever wins in May will think about institutionalizing the Governor’s Cup. Let’s call it simply the Governor’s Cup with no name attached so whoever sits in Capitol will continue it.

Both Governor’s Cups led to Cebuano stars earning scholarships both in Cebu and Manila, and in the case of the basketball event, which used the home-and-away format, led to home venues filled with partisan fans. Our own mini-version of the NBA.

All the basketball personalities—coaches, owners, players and writers were in consensus—it was one of a kind, something never seen before.

It was unfortunate we never saw a third edition when Gov. Garcia took over.

That’s why I like the idea of institutionalizing sports programs for continuity, so those involved know the program stays even if there is a change in power in Capitol.

Besides, having a regular Governor’s Cup will benefit sports at the municipal level. They can either hold tryouts to form their own team or, hold their own Mayor’s Cup to determine the players who could suit up for their team.

We can start with volleyball and basketball, and once the powers that be see their success—because frankly, it’s a formula for success—we can have other sports as well. And before we know it, Cebu Province can have its own version of the Philippine National Games.

It’s doable. Once we remove politics from sports. But, and here’s the irony, we need the political will to get there. It shouldn’t but that’s the reality.

So I hope whoever wins in May will institutionalize sports in the province. Cebu Province, given the right support, showed it’s a force to be reckoned with, proving that with a top five finish in the Philippine National Games in 2018.

Will we see that in May? I hope so. I know in political races, sports is rarely a factor but we can all dream, right?

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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