EDITORIAL: A different battle for athletes

This is truly unprecedented and laudable. After a long while of keeping the proverbial “line that divides”, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is acting on reports of corruption and abuse by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

It started when PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez revealed an incident where national athletes went to train in Germany and did not receive their full allowances as allocated by the PSC. Among the mandate of the government sports agency is to fund the training and competition expenses of national athletes. The POC, under which are the various national sports associations (NSAs) select and train national athletes.

The revelation sparked some athletes to come out in the open and speak up over the alleged corruption and abuses. While some had the courage to tell their stories, most athletes kept mum for fear of reprisals.

Being a national athlete is not simply competing and winning medals. It is also about respect and courage to stand up for the truth. Boxing great Muhammad Ali stood up against the war in Vietnam. Our athletes should find the same courage within themselves and speak up for whatever horrible experience tthey had to go through.

The PSC, in a recent memo, promised to provide protection and legal support for athletes who stand forward and decide to speak.

Our athletes, most of them from impoverished families in the provinces whose chance at a better life rests on their exceptional athletic talents, must take that leap of faith. It’s not just medals that are at stake here. It is their very own welfare and the future of Philippine sports.