Random Image Display on Page Reload

A respectable FIBA experience

THE ongoing FIBA World Cup basketball tournament has captured the imagination and enthusiasm of almost everyone in the Philippines, and even though it has not turned out as well as hoped for our own Gilas with three tough losses and a first-round exit, the entire event has been a success and, we hope, an inspiration for the nation.

A general view of the court during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group A match between Philippines and Italy at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, suburban Manila on August 29, 2023. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)A general view of the court during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group A match between Philippines and Italy at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, suburban Manila on August 29, 2023. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

A general view of the court during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group A match between Philippines and Italy at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, suburban Manila on August 29, 2023. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)
A general view of the court during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group A match between Philippines and Italy at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, suburban Manila on August 29, 2023. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

Of course, there are always a few contrarians eager to draw attention to themselves by dampening the spirit. Criticisms have been raised about the expense and disruption of hosting the tournament, the coaching management of the Gilas national team, and even the wild popularity of basketball among the Filipino people, characterizing it as an inappropriate activity for people who are, on average, rather small in stature, as well as undesirable cultural residue from the country's half-century as an American colony. Suggestions have even been made that Congress open inquiries into these matters.

With all due respect to those who are not fans of basketball, these kinds of criticisms are shortsighted, unnecessary and perhaps even a bit mean-spirited. Fortunately, however, they are shared by an inconsequential minority and can be safely ignored. The bigger picture is far brighter and potentially has much more positive outcomes for the country.

Major sporting events such as the FIBA World Cup can, if managed properly, have significant long-term benefits. Basketball is a popular sport in many countries, and the tournament is likely to attract significantly higher numbers of overseas visitors than similar events. The impact of the tournament on overseas visitor statistics will not be known until some time after the event is over, of course, but it would be quite surprising if there is not a noticeable increase.

Provided these visitors coming to the Philippines to watch the games have a good experience, many of them will be inclined to return again. Tourism has a profound short-term multiplier effect across the economy — it becomes a long-term effect if visitor numbers are sustained — and so even a relatively small number out of the thousands of tournament visitors who return for a future visit to the Philippines will have a substantial impact. The prospects for this happening are very good because even though the Philippines is sharing the opening-round games with Okinawa and Jakarta, the playoff rounds and the final championship game will be played here.

So far, it does appear that tournament visitors are being treated to a good experience, with our famous Filipino hospitality being complemented by a well-managed and largely trouble-free event. Credit must be given to the government, our national sports officials, FIBA and local government units for this result. The worries prior to the start of the tournament of widespread disruption and traffic congestion have not manifested in any significant way, and there have been virtually no reports of any trouble to mar the proceedings.

Naturally, everyone was hoping for our national team to make a stronger showing, and the Gilas advancing in the tournament would have made an already successful and enjoyable event a historically memorable one, at least for this country. Obviously, there will be a great deal of second-guessing and uncomplimentary judgment of the team's performance, but as anyone who has ever been involved in any kind of organized sport knows, no more demanding criticism can be leveled at the team than what the players and coaches subject themselves to, and lessons to improve the outcome the next time have undoubtedly been taken to heart. We can yet be proud of the Gilas; they lost games by only a handful of points to three tough opponents, and if the outcome of the competition was ever a foregone conclusion, there would be no reason to hold a tournament in the first place.

If there is one important takeaway from the World Cup tournament, it should be to inspire the development of more organized sports programs, not with the priority of national prestige in mind but because sports are physically, mentally and socially healthy for young people. The prestige will follow naturally, because countries that take that healthy perspective are always the ones that seem to excel most often. We are fortunate to be hosting examples to aspire to and should take lessons from them, regardless of how the affair has turned out for our own competitors.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

Check Also

Dissonant voices

Echoes from so many voices, including the silent ones who speak a lot. Like on …