Briones: Overzealousness at the oval

·3 min read

It has been more than a month since the Cebu City Sports Center opened its doors to the public after it was closed for more than a year after the city was locked down at the beginning of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic at the end of March last year.

It could have resumed operations when restrictions were eased after the city’s quarantine status was downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), but it didn’t because it was used as the sleeping quarters of police personnel who were deployed here to help local police enforce Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.

At least, that’s what I was told. At any rate, I was also told that the mayor had given his go-ahead for the facility to open last November yet, but...

Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge. The oval is once again accessible to runners, joggers, sprinters, walkers and TikTokers.

The oval has a special place in my heart.

Before the health crisis, I would be there at least five days a week. I started going in 2011 when I decided on a lifestyle change. As my doctor had advised back then, if I wasn’t willing to quit drinking or quit smoking, the least I could do was to lose weight. That, or expect an early death. It’s not like I had a choice.

I had a modest ambition. I never thought I would lose almost 100 pounds in the next two years. But I did. And the oval was instrumental in helping me achieve my goals.

So I was very happy when the sports center finally reopened last May 3. And I was there and have been there for at least five days a week since then. Rain or shine.

Of course, there have been changes.

The canteen, the gym and the boxing gym continue to be closed. So is the dancesports hall, if that’s what you call it. There is no water in the swimming pool since management is repairing it, although I don’t know why they’re doing it now when they had all the time in the last... what am I saying? I’m just glad that I can go back to my old routine.

But let me offer some unsolicited advice. It has something to do with the enforcement of safety protocols.

Yes, movement has, for the most part, returned to normal since the city was placed under MGCQ, but the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) continues to insist that people comply with mask-wearing and physical distancing and so on and so forth. And rightly so.

That’s why there are marshals that go around the oval reminding people about protocols. Some of them are volunteers like Coach Banzon and Coach Tirso, whom I’ve known for quite some time.

I thought management did the right thing in fielding them there since they have firsthand knowledge on doing sports amid the pandemic because, well, they are coaches and it’s their job to know. But the others are employees of the facility who have no background in athletics whatsoever. So they’re just doing what their superiors told them to do. They’re not aware of how important breathing is when engaging in strenuous exercise.

There was one employee last week who even took pictures of protocol “violators.”

Did the regional IATF order him to do that? Isn’t that illegal? I wonder what the ombudsman has to say about that.

Anyway, I know they’re out there to keep everyone safe. And I know some members of the public are pigheaded and deserve to be called out. But please, use common sense and don’t treat us like criminals. We are, after all, paying for your salary.