AS THE investigation on possible violations of some collegiate teams of government’s health and safety protocols during this time of the pandemic continues, the head of the top sports agency of the land moved to chime in and put things in perspective.

In a statement released on Monday, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William Ramirez lamented the possible lapses in judgment of varsity officials when, as per various reports, they conducted training in so-called bubbles when it is clearly stated in regulations released that such is still prohibited with the coronavirus still a concern.

Specifically mentioned was the basketball team of the University of Santo Tomas which allegedly conducted its bubble in Sorsogon beginning in June when most of the country was still under stricter quarantine setup.

Later on it was reported that the National University women’s volleyball team also held a training bubble in a sports facility in Laguna.

In his statement, Mr. Ramirez moved to underscore the moral challenges the sporting community faces particularly during this time of the pandemic and how people should be discerning in making decisions. This is primordial considering that lives are at stake.

“This issue brought to fore one glaring reality that we face in the field of sports, as in all other aspects of life — moral challenges,” said Mr. Ramirez.

The PSC chief went on to cite a paper written by Fr. Alfonso Suico, CSsR, entitled “Virtue and the Ethical Problems in Competitive Sports” which says “virtue ethics considers integrity and character of the athlete herself, a position that can determine the attainment of a goal, which is not (only) the winning of a game, but the flourishing one’s life.”

Mr. Ramirez found it striking and how it is very applicable to the issue at hand, zeroing in on the safety of all concerned, especially the student athletes.

“Does winning always mean everything else takes second place? Are we so focused on winning that we are ready to compromise important matters like the safety of the youth we are supposed to guide?” Mr. Ramirez posed.

“Is the athletic development and achievement, or team readiness more paramount that overstepping bounds, compromising one’s safety or putting your team credibility on the line takes a back seat?” he added.

The supposed UST bubble was brought to light as news of former captain CJ Cansino being cut from the team following a disagreement with coach Aldin Ayo in Sorsogon.

Cansino has since moved on, hooking up with the University of the Philippines while Mr. Ayo has not said much on the issue. The UAAP and UST, meanwhile, are doing investigations of their own on the matter and are expected to report soon.

Given the seriousness of the situation, Mr. Ramirez reiterated as a community every stakeholder must make it a point to be good followers during this health crisis and be mindful to put safety above all things.

“We cannot overemphasize how important it is to be good followers at this time of our nation’s journey. Just as our strict demand and high standards for good leaders are very much valid, we do our share in ensuring our victory against this health crisis when we decide to be good followers observing guidelines and moving as one team, community and country,” he said.

“Safety is priority. Your life, dear athletes, is more important than any medal could ever equal. We look to our sports officials to keep this prioritized in their decisions that may affect the good health of their athletes,” he added. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo