Schedule shows athletes not a priority for DepEd in Palaro

This year’s Palarong Pambansa will start on July 6 and end on July 17, but of the 11 days allotted for the Department of Education’s biggest meet, only five days—July 11 to 15—are allotted for the competition proper.

And that’s a bad thing because, again, it shows DepEd penchant for not prioritizing athletes in its sports meets.

Check the schedule as shared by the Cebu City PIO—July 6 and 7 (arrival of delegates and orientation of officials), July 7 and 8, solidarity meeting and refresher course, July 9 opening ceremony, July 10 (special events, rest day), July 11 to 15, competition proper, July 16 (closing ceremony), July 17 departure.

This reminds me of a curious memo I found almost 15 years ago sent by the then-sitting DepEd secretary warning delegations to limit the number of hangers-on who do nothing but don their tourist hats during the meet.

Because the schedule set by DepEd is tourist-friendly, not athlete friendly and I can see the gears clicking in the tourism-inclined DepEd officials who have already plotted their destinations during the time they’re supposed to be in the games.

Seventeen regions cramped in a five-day competition proper? And there’s that 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. window when no field games are to be held because of the heat? What were they thinking?

I can just imagine the tournament managers scratching their heads and insisting, “We should start the competition on July 7.

And what’s with the refresher courses? Referees who officiate in the Palarong Pambansa should be the ones who don’t need any refresher courses. If it’s a tournament for the best of the best student-athletes, the best of the best officials should be officiating, not some teacher who officiates part-time.

That has always been the problem with the Palarong Pambansa or the DepEd meets. DepEd taps its own officials, instead of hiring trained officials from the various national sports associations, and referees who need no refresher courses.

I think it’s only in boxing where DepEd tapped Abap but that was after a death in the competition blamed on….sarcastic drum roll please…shoddy officiating.

I mean, just check the schedule, July 10, a day after the opening ceremony is for special events/rest day. Rest day for whom? For the officials who would be busy visiting Cebu’s tourist spots?

As host, I hope Cebu City gets a say in the schedule set by DepEd because it’s not a schedule for athletes, but for officials. All DepEd has to do to realize how wrong their schedule is is to look at international events. Football starts before the opening ceremony, to give athletes the time to rest between games and there are no refresher courses because the officials have already been hand-picked.

But of course, DepEd won’t do that. DepEd will do what it usually does, the students be damned.

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