Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

The term ‘Olympic player’ is synonymous with the term ‘world-class player’. No agency, institution or country today can ever make claims to being world-class without passing through the baptizing fires of the Olympics games and winning medals in them, and any claim to the contrary will be laughed off with guffaws as mere delusional braggadocio. Play the games, be among Top 10 at least, and the team can be considered ‘world class’.

As a development expert, I was asked no more than once to express my opinion about what is the formula to make good athletes. I am very firm on this formula till these days, a formula that I learned since the late 80s yet (when I began my weight training), which I will sum up in a semi-aphorism below:

·         SPORTS SCIENCE makes Olympic athletes, while PHYSICAL EDUCATION makes athletes.

In my own country, which has a very long tradition of physical education or PE institutionalized by the Americans more than a century back yet, we have never been lacking in good PE trainers. I am very certain about this, being an athlete myself (Powerlifter, middleweight division, competed 91-92). However, to my mind, the PE track is not the best pathway to optimize the conversion of ‘raw warm bodies’ into world-class athletes. The formula lies more in Sports Science or Sportsci which is the raging fire in the sports world of the North today.

The main difference between PE and Sportsci is this: while PE can improve one’s ‘kinetic intelligence’, Sportsci improves emotional, social, and mental intelligence as well. During the dinosaur years of the Victorian Era, athletics was looked down upon as mere physical talent thing, and that ancient era (ancient relative to today’s Information Age) gave rise to PE. Unfortunately, that ancient toolery of PE was the one planted by Americans in the Philippines, which is taught as a subsidiary of pedagogy (education), and we got stuck up into it. Bad, too bad, very bad! America had already moved to Sportsci a long time back, while the former colony is stuck up in the mud.

We development experts know our lessons very well concerning our field, and development includes sports & leisure among its facets. The most important aspect of development is the institutional-‘social capital’ side (the stuff of ‘social technologies’), which comprises of over 77% of the success stories of prosperity. Raw materials constitute a measly 5% (the stuff of biotech), while infrastructures-physical intervention comprises 18% (the stuff of physical technology). Among all intervention measures for development, 77% comes from ‘social technologies’—from methods, tools, strategies, tactics of intervening in social capital, capacity-building, human resources and the likes. Build your people well and you’ll build your prosperity well.

Take the case of Japan and Singapore. These countries do not even have a natural resource base to embark on ambitious development pursuits, but hey! look at where they are now. That’s because they knew the development formula well. Natural resources, to repeat, do not constitute the decisive factor in development, which the World Bank & international agencies proclaimed as forming only 5% of development prosperity’s yardsticks. A country such as Burma is so wealthy in natural resources, yet so poor economically and likewise a poor performer in international sports, see?

In today’s context, the moron reasons of ‘lack of money’ and ‘lack of information’ to explicate weak institutions (eg. weak sports capabilities) are simply that: MORON. Those ‘problems’ were the problems of the ancient past. What we have today is a global situation of (a) exceedingly huge money stocks (which in economics is termed as ‘excess liquidity’) and (b) excessive information. Let me stress that: only MORONS keep on saying outmoded lines that do not cohere with reality. And incidentally there are too many of them in society, though I’d prefer not to pinpoint anybody out there lest I be accused of slandering.

In the Philippines for instance, in order to re-engineer our athletics well, all of our trainers have to be re-tooled in the ‘social technologies’ of Sportsci. All new professionals from the university who will handle athletics should get degrees in Sportsci as well, and they should better sustain this with enormous self-studies and a PhD at the maximum. Not only the trainer, but the TRAINING TEAM should be constituted to take charge of the formal training of athletes who should better begin training even as grade schoolers. The TEAM comprises of the Trainer, Nutritionist, Psychologist, Sociologist, Physiologist/Doctor, and not just the old-fogey Trainer of dinosaur days. The TEAM should then be backed up by sufficient provisions at the input level (backward linkage) and output level (forward linkage), the inputs & outputs thus depending on the sport concerned.

This is surely a tall order for the Philippines. Indeed, it is very tall an order, very challenging. It amounts to waging a ‘sports Revolution’, which it is. But what choice do Filipinos have, and likewise those underperforming athletes of powerhouses of emerging markets such as India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, than to go the way of a ‘sports Revolution’, a total innovation or re-engineering of the sports & leisure field.

Even without examining or evaluating the sports successes of Korea, China and Japan, I believe that these countries performed well precisely because they seriously undertook a ‘sports Revolution’ via the technologies of Sportsci. Rather than wallow in cesspools of indecision and mediocrity (eg. MORON  reasoning of ‘lack of money’ and ‘lack of knowledge/information’), the experts of these countries took the challenges head on, first by Japan, then followed by Korea (Seoul), and lastly by China. Look at how their athletes perform today, they lead Asia’s players by many folds!

If one were to ask me today what to do with the dinosaurs, I’d honestly and strongly cogitate to “KILL ALL DYNOSAURS BEFORE THE DYNOSAURS WILL KILL US.” And yes, we underperformers in sports are dying of SHAME each year, and each time an Olympics comes, precisely because we refuse to kill the ‘dinosaurs of our minds’ concerning our reality modalities such as sports & leisure. Let’s all ‘sustain’ our being dinosaurs, and all the more shall we heap up shame and guffaws from the world community.

As for the peoples of developed countries, better be vigilant about your advances in Sportsci. Don’t ever loosen on your cutting edge, never be lackadaisical in your attitudes, but never be arrogant and condescending too. By being otherwise, you too will become dinosaurs of the morrows, and will see your country slide from Olympic fame to the Hades of shame every time the games are held.

So much for those reflections. Have a nice day again!

[27 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

Explore posts in the same categories: development studies, education, globalization, health and wellness, human resources management, peace, social science, sociology, sports science

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  2. Sports mad Says:

    yes sports success these days is about skills, training, mental preparation and diet

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