Budget cuts and sudden announcements: A student-athlete’s point of view

0
2826

ATHLETES BRING HONOR and pride to the University’s name in every victory they bag.

Most members of the Thomasian community do not realize, however, that an athlete’s fight does not end in the arena or playing field. It continues in their daily lives as some compete to remain in UST.

The medals and trophies we take home not only represent a debt of gratitude we owe to the University. They are also tokens of assurance. Good performance in a competition means another chance to remain a Thomasian.

Imagine the fear and anxiety that dawned on us when the Covid-19 crisis took its toll on sports events and left us without a chance to perform and win.

Often, people do not see that to most student-athletes, no games literally mean no future.

It was heavy feeling.

I was in front of my laptop writing a final paper on May 17, a usual day in quarantine, when a chat message from a friend made me realize that our worst fears were becoming a reality.

My heart thumped louder when I read his question: “Nagtatangal na din ba sa inyo?”

“Nagtatangal?” I replied. My friend explained how the University, like everyone else in this global crisis, could be facing problems and that scholarships were starting to be cut.

I learned that it had been weeks since players lost their scholarships despite an earlier promise from the administration to the contrary.

I witnessed players watching fellow athletes face the dilemma as they attended follow-up meetings with their respective teams, waiting to see if their names would be stripped from the upcoming semester’s list of scholars.

Veteran teammates who were assured of scholarships looked out for those in trouble, like family members worrying for their relatives’ safety.

I realized that I could speak up on behalf of athletes whose futures depended on scholarships and our coaches who had to go through the difficulty of choosing who would be sacrificed.

It took days of waiting as the anxiety caused by the pandemic merged with the stress brought by the possibility that we might not have the chance to continue our education as Tigers and Tigresses. I felt the varsity community tremble.

Despite that looming cloud above us, I saw my co-athletes persevere. No one outside our community knew of the internal crisis we were facing, but everyone kept silent and continued doing their part in their own homes through virtual training.

I saw how the pandemic was not enough to stop the athletes from training for UST. Even when it felt like they were being shunned, they pushed harder.

After a few weeks, the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics released the announcement everyone was waiting for on their social media platforms.

The post was a reassurance that all scholarships would be extended until the end of the upcoming semester. The relief it brought to the community was instant. The closest friends I had from the athlete community celebrated and breathed prayers of thanks.

In the following team meetings, we were reassured that our scholarships were indeed extended. However, we cannot deny that UST is affected by the pandemic and our fates after this upcoming semester will have to be decided anew.

Our coaches still hinted at the possibility of budget cuts and limited scholarships, depending on how this pandemic plays out.

If the worst-case scenario does play out, the administration should be prepared, knowing that removing scholarships during a crisis could impact the University in the long run.

Besides the scholars who might opt to stop due to financial difficulties, players with potential might transfer to rival institutions. This could place the University’s sports program in peril. Its winning record is at stake.

Coaches who served as second parents to some athletes would, once again, go through the struggle of letting members of their team, their second family, go.

I urge the administration to reconsider the situation and to reach out to anyone who could help. A solution that delays the inevitable is not a solution at all.

I urge the decision-makers to be even more compassionate to the plight of student-athletes, exhibit competence in finding the best solution, and keep their commitment to the University’s mission to educate well-rounded Christians.

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.