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Challenging times for UAAP

Closed uaap
Closed-door UAAP game.

JUST like any sporting events around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the UAAP competitions.

The basketball tournament was able to complete its season on March 9 after Nazareth School of National University completed a two-game high school boys Finals sweep of Far Eastern University-Diliman in a game played behind closed doors at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

As the coronavirus cases in the country has started to increase, the league on the next day has decided to suspend the second semester events, which includes the highly-popular volleyball competitions.

There were only four completed volleyball matchdays, which included a marquee showdown between defending women’s champion Ateneo and traditional powerhouse La Salle, when the UAAP suspended play.

Aside from volleyball, men’s and women’s football, softball, baseball and the deciding high school girls’ basketball game between Adamson and University of Santo Tomas were affected by the suspension.

With the extension of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, the UAAP on April 7 announced that all of its second semester sporting events has been terminated.

The league was looking for alternative format for the collegiate tournaments. But with the continuing lockdown, which includes stringent social distancing measures that prohibits mass gatherings like sporting events, the UAAP has no recourse but to shut down the season.

With the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) having been extended, the conditions for the resumption of UAAP Season 82 can no longer be met,” said Board of Managing Directors president Em Fernandez of host Ateneo and executive director Rebo Saguisag in a statement.

As such it is now deemed cancelled.

Second semester student-athletes were visibly heartbroken by the decision, but they have no choice but to abide it for the safety of the UAAP community.

Despite the cancellation of Season 82, the league was still able to crown University of Santo Tomas as general champions in the collegiate and high school division.

In a virtual closing ceremony held last July 25, the Growling Tigers captured a league-best 44th overall collegiate title, while the Tiger Cubs ruled the high school side for the 21st time.

The UAAP, however, was not able to award team and individual Athlete of the Year in the collegiate and high school divisions, the first since the league has started giving out the highest athletic honor in 1996.

A few months later, UST was embroiled in a major controversy.

The UAAP on Sept. 8 slapped an indefinite ban on men’s basketball coach Aldin Ayo for organizing the Tigers’ controversial Bicol “bubble” training during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sanction was based on the report submitted by UST, which investigated the workouts conducted in Ayo’s hometown in Capuy, Sorsogon despite the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)-enforced prohibitions on amateur sports teams.

Prior to the decision, Ayo, who steered the Tigers to a runner-up finish last year, resigned last Sept. 4 and was replaced by Jinino Manansala.

After a thorough deliberation, the UAAP Board of Trustees (BOT) ratified the decision of the Board of Managing Directors (BOMD) to ban coach Aldin Ayo indefinitely from participating, in any capacity, in all UAAP events and UAAP sanctioned-acitivities,” said the league in a statement.

The sanction was the harshest the league has imposed to an individual since La Salle team manager Manny Salgado was banned for life for striking Far Eastern University’s Arwind Santos in the nape in the 2005 men’s basketball championship opener.

The school’s internal investigation said that Ayo’s “bubble” training endangered the health and well-being of the players under his charge.

The “bubble” controversy left UST men’s basketball program in shambles, as CJ Cansino, Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy, Deo Cuajao, Brent Paraiso, Ira Bataller and Bismarck Lina transferred to different schools.

As the COVID-19 pandemic showed no signs of slowing down, the UAAP on Dec. 10 had scrapped the Season 83 tournaments. The league has repeatedly firm on its stance during this public health emergency that if there is still no face-to-face classes, there will be no games.

After a series of discussions, the UAAP Board of Trustees came
to this difficult decision, putting major consideration on the health and
safety of the student-athletes and those involved in the operations of
our competitions,” said the league in a statement.

The year also marked the end of the UAAP’s two decades of partnership with giant network ABS-CBN, which saw its congressional license not renewed by the House of Representatives last July.

With the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the league has no recourse but to find a new television coveror.

Last Dec. 17, the UAAP had sealed its five-year broadcast deal with Cignal TV and Smart, with the hopes of giving an opportunity to showcase and highlight the league’s values, especially, promoting amateur sportsmanship and the well-rounded development of its student athletes.

The partnership with Cignal TV and Smart will continue to bring the UAAP closer to the students and alumni of the member schools as well as the general public,” said UAAP Board of Trustees Chairman Bro. Raymundo Suplido, FSC, of host La Salle.

The league is now plotting to start Season 84 safely on September 2021, with the hope of having the COVID-19 crisis being eradicated by then.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight