To the: Commissioner and the Board of Trustees of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP)
From the: UE Alumni Association Inc. (UEAAI)
Cc: Board of Trustees of the University of the East (UE)
Date: September 3, 2013
Subject: A CALL FOR JUSTICE, FAIRNESS AND DUE PROCESSIN THE UAAP 76 MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
We in the University of the East Alumni Association Inc. (UEAAI) have put much thought into airing this statement and we now feel it is high time to make ourselves heard.
We rarely intervene in matters that the Management of the University of the East, our Alma Mater, can ably address. Yet this time we, UE alumni of various generations and fields of endeavor, might be able to contribute humbly yet positively to the collective efforts at bolstering the spirit of sportsmanship and fairness in the country’s premier collegiate sports league.
With all due respect to the gentleman UAAP 76 Commissioner and the ladies and gentlemen who comprise the UAAP Board of Trustees, we wish to draw attention to what appears to be instances of unfair treatment towards themembers of the UE Red Warriors-Men’s Basketball Team across the ongoing UAAP 76 men’s basketball tournament.
There are several such instances in UAAP 76 of inequitable treatmenttowards particular members of the UE men’s basketball team, such that essaying them all can easily lengthen this document. In the interest of brevity, we shall focus on two of the most recent suspensions of as many UE Red Warriors, which have made a major impact not just on UE’s men’sbasketball standings in UAAP 76 but more so in the overall conduct andobservations of the tournament.
The first involves UE’s lone playing import this season, Charles Mammie, whohas been unceremoniously “slapped” with a two-game suspension. Thisfollowing a supposed offense during the team’s game versus the FEU Tamaraws on August 25, 2013.
Even though the alleged offense was never called by any of the game’s referees— one of whom was at the very scene of the supposed infraction— the UAAP Commissioner, reportedly after reviewing “by himself” the game on video, deemed it as deserving of a penalty. And just like that, without giving the parties involved the benefit of due process and, apparently, without consulting the UAAP Board’s own Technical Committee, the Commissioner went ahead and meted a two-game suspension upon Mr. Mammie.
The second involves another one of UE’s key players, Ralf Olivares. While Mr.Olivares’ technical fouls and unsportsmanlike behavior in the team’s August31, 2013, were actually called during the game, and while his actions are not inarguable, we respectfully deem it unjust that the young man was dealt by the Commissioner with his own two-game suspension sans the benefit of due process.
Adding insult to injury is the highly visible fact that such supposed offenses by UE players have likewise been committed by members of a number of other UAAP member-schools’ players, yet those other schools’ own offenders either have had much lighter penalties or none at all. What’s more, these and similar instances are in plain view of UAAP men’s basketball’s massive audience within the tournament’s sphere, i.e., during the games and afterwards. And such unfortunate decisions continue to bediscussed and debated through standard conversation, traditional media and social media, and among UE and even non-UE fans—with a zeal thatmatches, if not surpasses, the players’ own constant passion at the hardcourt.
In fact, don’t take our word for it. Within the last 48 hours, two of the country’s respected sports columnists, namely former PBA coach and former PBA deputy commissioner Tommy Manotoc and veteran sports journalist Al Mendoza, have published independent columns in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Manila Standard Today, respectively. In essence, their latest columns call into question the recent, shall we say, provocative decisions made by the UAAP Commissioner— who, UAAP viewers of all ages know, is himself a former player in the very physical tournaments of the Philippine Basketball Association.
The repercussions of incidents such as the harsh suspensions on Mr. Mammie and Mr. Olivares are far-reaching.
Beyond bare statistics, such weighty decisions impact upon the directp articipants of the games, who have worked tirelessly to become the professional athletes that they are today. Such weighty decisions likewise impact upon the countless audiences far and wide, of various ages and backgrounds, who view the games for the basic entertainment and excitement they provide and, subconsciously or not, for the vivid microcosm of life that basketball and sports truly are.
We must add that the members of the University of the East community, which includes the Management and Coaching Staff of the UE Red Warriors- Men’s Basketball Team, are ever conscious of espousing and sustaining integrity in all of their work and actions. UE has been in the service of youth, country and God for over six decadesnow and will, in fact, be marking its 67th Foundation Anniversary this September. Never has nor will the University and all who work, study in or remain part of it, including us thousands of her alumni, be a genuine party to supposed unsportsmanlike behavior that are the alleged root of Mr. Mammie’s and Mr. Olivares’ suspensions.
Everyone in UE is ever conscious and aware of its accomplishments and repute, and never will we aim to waste the good name that our founders,predecessors and we ourselves have built together all these years. Nor willour players, most of who come from humble backgrounds, be completely foolish as to readily squander years and years of time, blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice in fulfilling their dreams of UAAP and basketball greatness— making such suspensions a very real source of heartbreak and frustration forthe players and for us who nurture and are proud of them.
All things considered, while our penalized athletes may well be deemedvictims of decisions that at least deserve discussion, if not debate, there arefar more casualties in these scenarios than those in the suspensions’immediate circle.
For one thing, the suspensions of Mr. Mammie and Mr. Olivares, hard-hitting and open to question as they are, impacts on the morale of their team. By extension, those suspensions also impact on the athletes’ own fellow UE students and, even further, to UE’s workforce— officialdom, faculty members and other personnel— and, much further, to the University’s numerous alumni.
Even then, the true casualty of unfortunate dilemmas such as those suspensions is, in a very real sense, the UAAP men’s basketball tournament itself. After all, these unheralded decisions of the good Commissioner, which are made in private but have very public consequences, are visible to the nakedeye of any ardent UAAP observer or fan. Most of all, they endanger the very ideals that the league espouses. Should this sort of scenario be allowed to prosper, the UAAP, with its rich and colorful 76 years, just might end up truly weakened, no longer the force of genuine power it has long been reckoned to be.
We are not making this statement just because the UE Red Warriors-Men’sBasketball Team Head Coach is, like us, a UE alumnus. We are not makingthis statement just because the players of the UE Red Warriors-Men’s Basketball Team are UE students and, thus, would soon join our ranks as UEalumni. These fine men and their colleagues are and will always be a source of pridefor us sons and daughters of the University of the East, through every well-deserved victory and every unquestionable defeat. Nevertheless we, the hundreds of thousands of us in the UE Alumni Association Inc., are making ourselves heard now in the interest of fair play and equality among the UAAP— among its member-schools, its Board of Trustees and its Commissioner.
We remain respectful and admiring of the good Commissioner and the ladies and gentlemen of the UAAP Board of Trustees, who must be commended for their dedication and efforts in the ongoing UAAP Season 76—which, we know full well, will last up to March next year.
We are ourselves are open to dialogue should the Commissioner and the Board deem it meritorious. We remain supportive of the UAAP and all of its tournaments at inspiring the young and the young at heart to be epitomes of greatness that, indeed, never ends.
And we remain hopeful that, as sharp as their eyes are, the Commissioner and the Board would be receptive enough and open their ears, minds and hearts as well to our plea for justice, fairness and due process, as we continue to appreciate and relish the sights and sounds of the UAAP.
Thank you and more power to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines!