IF you play for pay, you are a professional.
This was stressed by Games and Amusement Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra as he revealed plans to pursue commercial basketball and volleyball leagues “which are not yet under supervision of the government regulatory sports agency.”
Mitra said he is scheduled to meet again with officials of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) and the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) and Premier Volleyball League (PVL) to remind them that they should be under the umbrella of the GAB.
“If athletes of these three leagues play for pay, there is no doubt that they are considered professional athletes who should be under the supervision of GAB,” said Mitra in a statement during the first-ever “Usapang Sports” by TOPS (Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports) at the National Press Club in Intramuros, Manila.
Mitra, a three-term lawmaker from Palawan who was personally appointed by President Duterte as GAB chairman in 2016, said all professional athletes are required by law to apply for licenses and undergo such measures as drug testing and medical examination.
“GAB, pursuant to Presidential Decree 871, is in charge of supervision and regulation of the conducts of all professional sports in the country, including basketball and volleyball,” explained Mitra.
“Clearly, players in the three commercial leagues (MPBL, PSL, PVL) are professional athletes, who receive renumeration for their services to their respective teams,” added Mitra.
While he understands some of the concerns raised by the three professional leagues, Mitra said the GAB has no option but to enforce the law even if some of the players are still currently enrolled to play in the UAAP, NCAA and other collegiate leagues, as claimed by their respective managers.
“Wala na tayong magagawa kung yun players nila na naglalaro ngayon sa mga commercial leagues ay nag-aaral at naglalaro pa din sa UAAP, NCAA at iba pang mga collegiate leagues. Let’s just follow the law,” added Mitra.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez concurred with Mitra’s official stand.
“If these players do not play for flag and country during international meets, such as the Olympics, Asian Games and SEA Games, they are already considered professional athletes,”said Ramirez, who appeared with Mitra during the weekly sports forum supported by the PSC, National Press Club and Philippine Sportswriters Association.
Mitra identified basketball, billiards, boxing, e-sports, football, golf, mixed martial arts, motocross, jetski, triathlon, volleyball and water sports.
“If all these professional sports can follow the law, bakit hindi yun ibang professional sports din.”
Mitra said GAB is also united with President Duterte’s vision of promoting a drug-free country.
He recalled one MMA superstar who was suspended by GAB for initially refusing to undergo the mandatory drug testing after the match.