UPS .... a different kind of collegiate league
New collegiate league for positive values
THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) Updated July 30, 2012 12:00 AM
A new collegiate sports league is being formed on the initiative of like-minded sportsmen who would like to espouse positive values and formation for student-athletes. The league, which is set to open within the next three months, is being organized by young Filipino coaches from an international organization for spirituality in sports and a few select members of the basketball community who believe in change for the positive.
Tentatively called “Union for Positive Sports” or UPS, the association has already attracted some large, well-known educational institutions who are not members of larger, older leagues like the UAAP or NCAA. Because of some of the disturbing trends brought out by stiff competition in recruitment, these schools have been searching for an organization that will maintain the enduring values they would like to see in a sports league, like sportsmanship, respect and unity. They are also alarmed at the prevailing rate of outbreaks of violence in college basketball, as revealed in a previous column by this writer.
UPS is looking at innovations that long-standing collegiate leagues may not be able to implement because they have simply been run a certain way for a very long time. In the US, the Positive Coaching Alliance boasts thousands of member coaches and institutions, and asks parents of young athletes to sign a covenant promising to be on their best behavior when their kids are playing. The maiden season of UPS will begin with a basketball tournament and eventually include other sports. But first, the ground rules have to be established. The league will hold an orientation for all players and coaches on what their vision is, and that is a unified, non-violent sports league that reinforces traditional and universal values. One of the subjects of the orientation will be how to respond to a potentially violent situation on-court. Instead of retaliating to violence, players will be trained to merely walk away or at the very most defend themselves from attack.
“The problem is sometimes the coaches themselves,” says one of the founders of UPS. “Players will do whatever the coach wants in order to keep their spot on the team and protect their future livelihood. In some cases, it is very hard to prevent violence when hurting another player in order to win is an option.”
Another cultural change is creating activities for the entire league to participate in, such as blood donation drives and charity work, something that is rarely seen in collegiate basketball leagues. The more players from different schools do things together and get to know one another, the less likely they are to lash out at a friend, even if that friend plays for a rival school. One of the founders likened it to the evolution of the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, whose outbreaks of fighting have lessened tremendously over the years. When the rivalry first came into prominence, Green Archers players were primarily based in Manila, while Blue Eagles were in Quezon City. But over the years, as they inadvertently became teammates on the national youth team, men’s team and Philippine Basketball League, the animosity decreased. Eventually, they also started hanging out in the same places, and this softened the bigotry they were trained to have against each other.
Some schools aiming to join the new league are outside Metro Manila, and have been shopping around for leagues to join. Their desire is to enable to play in an atmosphere wherein their teams will feel safe and secure, and will only have to worry about playing well on the court. Organizers have initially filtered out schools that don’t really have the same intention by laying down non-negotiable ground rules that some schools simply don’t want to agree to. Also, rules on recruitment and eligibility are being firmed up, and will strictly be enforced. The past few years have seen too many controversies around the age, eligibility and grades of collegiate athletes, issues that the new league will not allow to happen.
The new league is also scheduling home and away games, to allow each school to host their rivals in a more friendly atmosphere, including postgame gatherings and entertainment programs. This will also guarantee home crowds, and the culture of unity will have a chance to sprout in the schools themselves. Schools will be able to treat other teams as guests and not hostile invaders, and showcase the best of their institutions. This is similar to post-match celebrations in rugby, where the players will become traveling examples of sportsmanship, spirituality and fair play, and influence their schoolmates positively. Over the next few years, the seeds of positivity will grow, and gradually cause change in how the students treat each other, as well.
The long-term vision for UPS is to be a nationwide agent of change, and cause a shift in consciousness in how we respond to each other during athletic competition. The hope is that better students, and athletes who will be better sportsmen and not better thugs. Already, a growing groundswell of support is sprouting by word of mouth, and in the next few weeks, the new league will be a welcome reality.
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Mabuhay ang TEAM PILIPINAS !!!!
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THE DREAM LIVES ON !!!!