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Stop bashing the athletes

It pains me so bad when people bash athletes for things they post on social media.

Well, maybe some deserve to be criticized. But most of the time, either they are just misunderstood or ill-advised.

But when athletes air their sentiments in relation to their being an athlete, or something that would affect their performance, for once, they deserve to be heard.

Almost everybody uses social media to communicate. From business leaders, politicians, movie celebrities to an ordinary housewife griping about her husband, they all use social media to speak their minds out. So why can’t athletes do the same?

Keyboard warriors are like lions always looking for their prey. Some comment with good common sense, others post nonsense.

It’s easy to discount comments coming from netizens who don’t really belong to the inner community.

But what really hurts me is when the person commenting comes from within the sports circle, someone who is supposed to understand the athletes better. Someone, who could empathize with them. Someone who would treat his own child with love and compassion.

Why can I say this?

I know what I speak of as I happen to be part of the coaching staff of the Philippine national kickboxing team.

I have witnessed hundreds of aspiring athletes pour their blood, sweat and tears—all wanting to be part of the elite team.  

We are currently in a bubble training and selection process for the athletes wanting to be part of the team that will compete in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam set in November. Whether the biennial meet gets postponed or not, we are dead set on completing the final lineup.

Our selection process was programmed by our overall skills’ coach Mark Sangiao, yes the founder of the famed Team Lakay, no less.

So expect the selection to be as hard as what the vaunted Team Lakay athletes go through their daily grind.

Aspirants come from different martial arts clubs, some as young as 18 years olds, who have been practicing since childhood, devoting countless hours in the gym, while other kids and teens spend more time on their gadgets.

I personally see their sacrifices.

They gring it out with two sessions of training and strenuous exercises daily, with tears mixed with sweat on their faces due to exhaustion and exasperation, not to mention sparring sessions that get bloody at times.

They’ve been doing this for years, hoping that someday, they would land a spot in the national circle of athletes that will carry the country’s banner.

My father, a former Manila Golden Gloves boxing champ and professional contender, who trained me and allowed me to compete in amateur boxing but prevented me from going professional, which at that time (during the 1970s) was the way to go for an aspiring boxer.

“Anak, ‘wag mo na ako gayahin. Mag-aral ka mabuti. Luha, dugo at pawis para maging boxer,” he always told me.

My athlete pedigree is the main reason why I became a sportswriter. But I was an athlete first.

So much so that I really get hurt when an athlete takes a beating, not on the ring, but from keyboard warriors, for speaking out.

For the bashers out there, you don’t even know what these athletes have gone through.

Let them be. They deserve to talk. They earned it.

Topics: Manila Golden Gloves , Philippine national kickboxing , Team Lakay , Mark Sangiao , Athletes

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