The Filipino Olympic medal drought is a complex issue by Raphael Lloren. Again we would like to share an intelligent review of Filipino Athletes medal drought from our community member, Raphael. This is in response or a support for the review made by our fellow member, Alain Austria (Read his review, click HERE)!
The Filipino Olympic medal drought is a complex issue which encompasses a lot of things.
First is sport participation. In my opinion, the sports that the Philippines can excel at (provided there is a world-class development program in place) in the mainstream Olympics are gymnastics, diving, weightlifting and synchronized swimming because in these sports Filipinos would not be at a disadvantage due to their size also these sports garner viewership, which means more funds from big businesses.
Second is funding. This one is really a chicken and the egg question. Is sports in the Philippines underfunded due to lack of international performance or is the lack of performance due to lack of funds. After living both in Canada and the Philippines and having participated in sports in both countries, I have come to realize that sport participation is for those that have the financial means to do so.
Here in Canada, you pay for your club fees (registration & admin, training facilities, competition fees), also you have to take care of your own transportation (gas and/or airfare) and lodging for out-of-town competitions. In Canada, youth national and provincial championships are available for all provided you can afford to attend. Even when our teams leave the country to represent Canada, our athletes have to pay out-of-pocket for many of their expenses.
In the Philippines, the provincial government pays for tournament and travel expenses (for Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy). This system reduces athlete participation as the level of competition increases. So it does not develop more participants. Fewer participants mean an even shallower talent pool.
The private sector really wouldn't support Philippine Olympic Teams because there's no return on their part. After team USA wins a medal or when team USA is playing, commercials like Proctor & Gamble, McDonalds and Bank of America come up. Companies will support sports provided that they're winning and that people watch them.
Bearing this in mind, how many of our athletes actually get past their first round games and how much viewership do these athletes provide?
The government has no vested interest in sport. Funding sport programs does not give them votes in the end. The masses don't remember the party that supported an athlete get to an Olympic podium, instead they remember the athlete that won.
Third is long term planning and development. Whether we like it or not, the Philippines is not a country that is proactive. Rains come at a certain time of year, and still we're surprised that it floods? Or we know it rains at a certain time of year, what have we done to prevent a land slide from demolishing a city?
Countries that are in the top 10 medalling have put into place programs that lead their participants from introduction to the sport to the podium, furthermore these programs take on average 30 years to complete - 14 to go from intro to sport to Olympic calibre, then 16 years to actually medal at least once.
I could go on and on about what the Philippines need to change in terms of youth sports development, but suffice to say, what's going on within the country in terms of athlete development is clearly not world-class.
These issues are just the tip of the iceberg. The more important thing is, are we taking the right steps to address them?