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Competitiveness

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The other day I was watching the news on TV.  One of the stories was that there was a lady who is entering the weightlifting competition in the coming Olympics in Beijing.  She will be the first Filipina to compete in weightlifting in an Olympic Games.  At the end of the story they said that her entrance into the games brought the Philippine team up to 15 members.  This kind of surprised me to be honest, because I thought that the Philippine team would be quite a bit larger than that.

The Philippines, after all, is a country of 90 million people.  There can be no doubt that there is a warm climate here, and basically that applies 12 months of the year.  If we were talking about the Winter Olympics, I could understand that the Philippine team would be very small.  After all, this is not the climate for winter sports.  But for summer sports, the Philippines should really excel.

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I have noted since living here, there seems to be a real lack of competitiveness in the Philippine culture.  Competitive organized sports are few.  Basically, basketball is about all that you see.  There are other sports too, things like martial arts, swimming, soccer and such, but the number of people competing in the sports is very limited.  Where I come from, even when you’re only four or five years old you’re already participating in sports leagues.  Things like Little League baseball, Pop Warner football and other such events.  I find that here in the Philippines, those kind of things are very limited, if not impossible to find.

One of the reasons, of course, is a lack of funding.  Such sports can be expensive, and funds for that kind of thing are simply not available here.  This would especially apply towards any kind of school events.  However, it would seem that there are enough people with money here, that there could be like a kid’s soccer league or something like that.  Each parent would supply the money for his own kid’s participation, and that wouldn’t be very expensive, in my opinion.  Of course this would be limited to people that have money, or poorer people that were sponsored into such events.

I wonder though, if it’s not more of a cultural thing than a financial thing.  Culturally, competition might cause the other person to lose face, embarrass them or something like that.  In this culture, making somebody embarrassed like that is to be avoided or not done at all.  Maybe it’s not cultural, but it’s something that comes to mind.

I find it strange though, that such sporting events don’t exist, but when it comes to basketball people go crazy.  Why is that?  I mean, there are multiple basketball leagues, college competition etc., but few other sports being competed.  Another one that does come to mind is billiards.  Billiards is widely played.

So, what do you think?  Does it seem like there’s a lack of competitive sports in the Philippines compared other countries?  To me that is clearly the case.  Am I missing something?

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Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

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Bob
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Hi Ellen – yes, the colleges compete in NCAA events especially for basketball, but I was thinking more about young kids from kindergarten through grade school. I don’t see many sporting activities for them.

I wasn’t aware of any basketball arena in Davao, maybe it’s been closed down already, or I’m just unaware of it.

Bob
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Hi John – I was just thinking… we need to clarify. That picture that I added to your article… it's not an actual photo of the offending mosquito on your….. er… never mind!

Bob
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Hi Neil – I would agree I also don’t see the culture of competitive sports in India. Maybe that drives home the point that it’s perhaps caused by economics, as India is also quite poor. I tend to disagree with you about sports fields at schools and also about Parks. At least here in Davao, there are lots of Parks. As a matter of fact in my opinion, Davao has more parks than most cities in the US of a similar size. Also, I think just about every school I can imagine here has a track and a soccer field.

Mark C.
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Mark C.

Hi Bob!

I looked up The Philippine Olympic history in Wikipedia and it looks like you are right; philippine olympians are mostly individual competitors. They have not had a Olympic Basketball team since 1972. Most of their atheletes are Boxers and Swimmers. The only medals they have won are for Boxing. Maybe if Manny Paqcuiao goes they can win another.
Interesting note: the Philippines HAS competed in the Winter Olympics in Alpine Skiing and the Luge.

Mark C.

Bob
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Hi Mark C. – up its funny that you mentioned about the Winter Olympics. Feyma and I have a bit of a comical story about that. In 1992, when the Winter games were held, Feyma had just been in the states for a year at that time. When the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics came on TV, I was kind of excited and I told her, oh, I wonder if the Philippines has an Olympic team, let's watch and see. Well, she took it that I had just insulted or belittled her country. She told me that of course… Read more »

Mark C.
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Mark C.

Hi Bob.

Maybe that's a sport where Filipinas can compete; Olympic Pouting! 😉
They sure are good at it!

Mark C.

Bob
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Hi Mark C. – Whew, Mark! 😯 I'm not going to touch that! 😆

Ellen
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Ellen

😀 😆

Bob
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Hi Ellen – ❓

macky
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ah sports. something dear to my heart. over a decade ago, i too was surprised by the small rp contingent. i've soon come to realize the reasons are a mix of finance, qualifying for competition & focusing on certain sport to develop. that, and a messed up sports leadership. i sometimes joke about pinas not having won a single gold medal in the olympics. but the bright side is that winning a medal there is much more cherished. i see countries like china & the us belittling a small medal tally (a silver? what is this?!), and yet here is… Read more »

Steven
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Steven

Hello Bob, I think you are on the right track there, all though if you fly Plane ALways Late (PAL) in there video clip you would think they are a great sporting nation. I nearly choked on my lunch when I watched that. Remember the movie made a while back about the jamacains having having a winter olympic team and if I remember the only time they see snow is on TV. I know that just going for a walk if foriegn to most filipinos, I know if I could drive the car through the shopping centre and down the… Read more »

Bob
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Hi Dave – Thank you for your kind words, and also thank you for supporting the cause. You are so correct, we all get caught up in our own worries that we tend to forget to stop and think of others. Doing that makes us happy too, and lowers our burden, at least in my experience.

Thanks again, Dave!

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