In early May, when the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. announced its cancellation of the next season, a lot of people thought it came too early. Things may still change, they said, the economy may turn for the better and we’d all be back to normal.
But two months and change after that, nothing has changed. The economy is still in shambles, with media giant ABS-CBN forced to let go of employees. However, unlike the other companies that were knocked out by the dwindling sales or access to markets due to the pandemic, the media giant finally went down for the count after a coordinated strike.
Commission on Higher Education (Ched) chairperson Prospero de Vera III also said some private colleges are closing due to the huge drops in enrollment, which some blamed on the loss of income of parents.
School opening is supposed to be less than six weeks away, but with so much uncertainty going around, you can’t help but feel for the student athletes who are worrying if they will still have slots when they do decide to enroll for a school year that won’t have an athletic competition. Two months ago, several schools in Manila reported massive cuts in their athletic programs, with whole teams wiped out.
We haven’t heard anything new yet, and I hope that means well. But in reality, the big schools are in survival mode, and ditching their athletic programs may be one way of extending their lifespan.
Consider the clamor of some parents to unbundle school fees, for example, since they do not want to be paying for unnecessary fees that may not be suitable in an online setup. Now consider the athletic fee, the lifeblood of a school’s athletic program. There are still no guidelines in the collection, or non-collection, of such fee from Ched. When it says schools can collect it, the athletes can heave a sigh of relief, but if the parents protest and demand why they should pay athletic fees for a school year that doesn’t have a competition?
Like everyone else, the schools are in uncharted waters. I’d be really impressed if a school does decide to still have athletic scholars in the next school year and I’d understand if it won’t. With no relief in sight—for school and athletes—the next school year is when everyone will have to make a sacrifice, in the hope that things will be brighter for both school and athletes a year later.