How the UAAP and NCAA cage wars reflect our hypocrisy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-09-02
A culture of corruption is established when a society freely accepts, adopts and practices the mindset that IF WE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT, THEN DO IT. In our culture, we call this patinikan which promotes the WIN AT ALL COSTS mentality. Win at all costs is the modern day expression of the Nicolo Machiavelli mindset of “The ends justify the means.”

Don’t you find it hypocritical that many of our universities and colleges — the very ones whose basketball teams play in the UAAP and NCAA tournaments — are not practicing what they teach? No university or college will ever endorse the Machiavelli “The ends justify the means” mindset which is associated with the excesses and evils that mark the dark pages of world history. 

The Machiavelli “The ends justify the means” mindset manifested in the Marcos pursuit of a New Society which brought us to an all-time high in corruption and human rights violations. It also formed Adolf Hitler’s excuse for committing genocide while pursuing the evolution of a pure, superior Aryan race. It was also the philosophy of the US government for the genocide of the Native Americans so that they can remove them from their ancestral lands. 

If the universities and colleges will condemn the Machiavelli mindset, are they not subscribing to it when they recruit the taller and heftier foreign basketball players in order to win in the UAAP and NCAA cage wars? It is one thing if these foreigners freely opted to study in their schools and another if they were recruited and offered incentives to play for the school. Reliable sources confirm that these foreign players were recruited and offered substantial rewards for donning the school uniform.

This recruitment started with the Filipino-Americans from abroad. The excuse then was that they had Filipino ancestry. The spirit of competition among local born and home grown Filipinos was trashed for the sake of “bringing honor” to the alma mater. There being no honor in living by the Machiavelli mindset — what kind of an example then is the educational institution giving their students?

If the recruitment of Filipino-Americans is not bad enough, now we see the recruitment of foreign players who do not even have a drop of Filipino blood in them. Fifty years ago, no school would think of going this far. Fifty years ago, we were never this corrupt.

We do not want to single out a particular school in this issue but the case of the San Beda Red Lions of the NCAA sticks out like a sore thumb. San Beda won three consecutive NCAA championships with Sam Ekwe, a foreign recruit, playing a crucial role. Now, San Beda is poised to win another NCAA championship with Sudan Daniels, another foreign recruit, as a key player. Both Ekwe and Daniels excel in stifling the basket attempts of their opponents.

Without counterpart imports, it is like playing against a loaded deck of cards. A tall and imposing player like Ekwe and Daniels will force the smaller opponents to avoid lay ups and resort to the low percentage outside shots. On the offensive end, these tall foreign recruits provide offensive rebounds, thereby increasing their chances to score. For an all-Filipino team, it’s like playing against a team with a 10-point advantage in baskets and easily 8 more rebounds.
It is clearly unfair competition and the school officials cannot claim not to know that. Still, they allowed it. Just because other schools did it before and got away with it does not justify the adoption of what is inherently unfair. Just because the rules of the tournament did not have the foresight to anticipate this development and prohibit it — does not justify implementing what is clearly against the spirit of fair competition.

The schools that allow this practice of recruiting foreign players are setting a bad example of violating what they preach. They’re also losing sight of the aim of the sports competitions as promoters of the spirit as well as the concept of fair play and friendly contests.

Who can thus blame the disadvantaged teams for sometimes resorting to rough tactics as they desperately try to even the odds? While it cannot be condoned, we must nevertheless understand that this disadvantage provokes the tripping, elbowing and punching which mar the games. Have we not seen enough of that human tendency in the pages of history — when the cold and hungry resorted to bloody violent means in their desperate attempt to attain relief?

The collegiate Filipino center is usually 6 feet four inches in height. He is up against a foreign recruit who stands at least 6 feet 7 inches and is heavier. Unable to shoot baskets against the foreign recruit, unable to rebound — the poor Filipino center gets a mouthful from his coach. Sometimes, the poor Filipino center is even insulted by his coach just to prod him to contain the damage being wrought by the foreign recruit. Desperate, the poor Filipino center throws a punch, is thrown out of the game and is suspended from playing in the next game.

Why do we allow this to happen to our own kind? Whose side are we really on? Where is our Filipino heart? Where is our Filipino soul?

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