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BLIND SPOT: Does Play Pay?

What’s all the playing for? Where is it all headed to? Ultimately, education is directed towards gainful employment. How does sports bridge the gap between education and occupation? Suppose a child receives training in team ball game, some martial art, swimming or any athletic event. The pupil/student wins in the school intramurals; and gets to compete in the district level. Coach and whole family gets excited in the jubilation. Suppose the child continues with the training program and does possess the skills, he or she succeeds in that level; and advances in the division level. The pupil continues to win in the division level; and makes it to the regional level. Let’s push it further. The student carries on with a winning streak, and progresses to the top of the crop, the national level; and by now, his or her neck is weighed down with the medals from all those levels, and has gained a modest income from the incentives given by the local government. Let’s take it further. Our accomplished athlete bags golds in the national meet. He or she could be offered a rewarding scholarship in any of the UAAP or NCAA colleges or universities and continue to compete in his or her sport. The Palarong Pambansa veteran could join any of the national teams and join the ranks of Philippine athletes clamoring for more government support. After graduation, well, our athlete could, if opportunity comes, play professionally and make a very decent living of playing sports. How many sports could an athlete play professionally? There’s basketball, boxing and…what else? Realistically, these track happens only to a very select few. At some point on that path, the athlete gets eliminated from the next level of competition, and hangs the gloves, hangs the jersey, or sets aside the running shoes; and goes back to the books, and engages in a regular form of employment. While undergoing training as a pupil or a student, the athlete misses out on important lessons in class which are highly necessary prerequisites for the next levels of study. In the extent of a three month long training, the student could have missed on foundations for the next course of study in the languages, mathematics, sciences and other areas, which would demand extra effort to recover. At the end of the day, it would be academic ratings, academic skills on entrance tests, and employment examinations that would open opportunities of gainful employment, for most of these children. “On January 17, South Korea and North Korea agreed to march under one flag, and to field a joint women’s ice hockey team. And on January 20, representatives from both countries met at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss and agree the details of North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics.” ( Last Sunday afternoon, “a unified Korean team comprised of players from the war-separated North and South – take part in their first ever match, ahead of the start of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic games. They were convincingly beaten 3-1 by the Swedish women’s team, but then the result was never truly important. Not when history had already been made.” (, this is no fall of Berlin Wall; but it is already so much of a milestone in history. Yes. South Korea and North Korea have been unified. Since the end of World War 2, in the emergence of “two antagonistic states with diametrically opposed political, economic, and social systems”, “Both opposing governments considering themselves to be the government of the whole of Korea”, North Korea invading the South, (, the continuing enmity between the two nations after the Korean War, throughout the Cold War, spilling over the present times which has been further aggravated by the threatening North Korean nuclear program, a unification would be highly insanely improbable. North Korea and South Korea have been unified in one Korea in the guise of a women’s ice hockey team. Not only that, in the coming Winter Olympics, the two nations will be participating as one, under one flag which will be carried by two representatives of the two Koreas in the march of the nations in the opening ceremony. It was not military invasion. It was not economic assistance. It was not economic embargo. It was not nuclear intimidation. It was not foreign intervention. Not one of these succeeded in unifying two nations, at least for a while. It was sports. While combatants took up arms, while politicians planned economic aid, while foreign governments withheld resources, they all failed. They just have to come together to play. “…all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

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