NAVAL, Biliran — What began as a friendly sporting event between VSU (then ViSCA) and UPVTC, has now grown to a full blown annual competition with 11 participating SUCs. A competition with the primary objective of gathering the best and most skilled athletes to represent Region 8 in the nationals, that is what SCUAA-8 truly is.

But more than the pursuit of national acclaim, our athletes train and fight hard to bring glory to the institution they represent. There’s a different sense of pride that runs through you while donning the colors of your University, and facing the opponent in the field who is also proudly wearing his delegation’s insignia. Victory in that sense is close to personal, as you not only carry the pressure of the moment, but also the name of the school that fostered you.

But in the end, when the fight is won, when the victor is crowned, and after the medals are hung at the sweaty necks of the exhausted winners, they all take off their University jackets, and together, don the colors of Eastern Visayas.

This competition that pits the best against the best also endows our athletes with a sense of discipline. The value of teamwork, honesty, and perseverance – these things the SCUAA competition fosters in us. And these things are never absent in the mouths of Dr. Aleli Villocino, and professor Antipaso, in every opportunity they get to encourage the VSU athletes.

But when the pursuit of victory for the team gets in the way of the values that SCUAA stands for, and when pride gets in the way of our true purpose to give the best what is due to them, things become problematic.

In 1994, a quarrel broke out between schools as four different delegations all declared themselves ‘overall champion’ based on different metrics. Back then, ViSCA (now VSU), SSU, LIT (now EVSU), and TTMIST (now NWSSU) all insisted on calling themselves ‘overall champion’ which led to a rather embarrassing conflict.

That conflict steered us away from the values that SCUAA stands for, and the true purpose for which SCUAA exists. People no longer cared about coming together as one region after the competition. What they wanted was to be ‘the best above all’—in name.

That shallow pursuit has driven many to cheating—the biggest crime in the world of sports. Once you forsake honor for victory, you cease to become an athlete. This year, the host school, NSU, has been mired with cheating allegations, as unqualified players competed in three different sports under the NSU banner. Why go so far as to rig the game for the superficial ‘overall champion’ title, when the purpose of SCUAA is to pit the best against the best, to make sure that our region as a whole is well represented?

Since the 1994 incident, SCUAA 8 has agreed not to declare an ‘overall champion’. And not only was this to avoid conflict, but because it was the most logical thing to do.

You cannot crown an overall champion with a ‘point system’, unlike intramural games for example, which are scored between major and minor events. Creating a point system can favor certain delegations above others. Not all SUCs are sending the same number of athletes as not all SUCs are equally big. And not all SUCs are competing in all the sporting events of SCUAA.

This year however, during the opening ceremony of SCUAA, LNU’s sports director was shocked to hear their delegation being called the ‘three-time defending champion’. That he did not agree to.

“We are not comfortable with being called the overall champion. Most number of medals [should be the only thing we declare] because it’s unfair to other SUCs because they don’t have the same number of sports events. Never [have] you heard me saying ‘champion’, sila nagsabi”, says LNU sports director Jerauld Lirios.

The host also stated during the opening ceremony that this year, they will be declaring an overall champion via point system, reviving what sparked a big conflict in 1994. This is against national PASUC medal guidelines.

Recognizing which school raked in the most number of medals for their hard work is fair. Declaring an “overall champion” based on a point system is not. It is problematic. With a point-based coronation of a superficial title, you foster the notions of inferiority among schools, especially those with limited populations and resources. And you forsake the values of camaraderie and cooperation that we are forging through adversity in the field. That title also becomes a cause that encourages cheating. No longer do you focus on sending the best and worthiest to the nationals, because instead you rig the game for vainglory.

In VSU, where a cornerstone of our lives is truth, our coaches and superiors have always pounded into our heads: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. Our victory has always been present, medal or no medal. For at the end of every game we come together, we hold each other by the hand, and thank Him who gave us the strength to get this far. Because in our pursuit of excellence we value our integrity, we value truth, and we value each other. Once we come together, that is already victory.

Prince Darius Lina is the Executive Editor of the Amaranth, VSU's official student media organization. He won bronze in Taekwondo Poomsae Men's Group Category in SCUAA 2016.

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