January 10, 2008

Why a UAAP-NCAA merger won’t work

It's been the talk of the town, everyone has their own 20 centavos about this, and it seems the UAAP has shot down the proposal.

In order to understand the current situation of local collegiate basketball, we must know, at least the big events, on how we got to our present situation.

In 1924, the NCAA was created by 8 schools of Ateneo, La Salle, Institute of Accounts (forerunner of FEU), NU, San Beda, UM, UP and UST. After 12 years, the big three of UP, UST and NU with FEU pulled out the NCAA due to “commercialism” and after 2 years established the UAAP. The 6 remaining schools stayed with the NCAA (UM withdrew and was replaced by Letran, JRU and Mapua). In the late 70s-early 80s, Ateneo, La Salle and San Beda left the NCAA due to hooliganism; Ateneo and La Salle entered the UAAP while San Beda returned to the NCAA.

Now we got that history out of the way, it should be noted that these events largely setup the current leagues now employ; two “top-division” leagues (the UAAP arguably the more competitive), several “lower-division leagues”, the CESAFI that can compete with the Metro Manila teams, and the provincial leagues which can barely compete with the Metro’s “lower leagues.” These leagues are not under one umbrella, no managing body, and the leagues only come together on tourneys via invitations. Even the old BAP had a tough time convincing teams and leagues to join their tournaments, and the league championship gained preeminence.

So with no organizing body, no umbrella; no wonder the Philippines has no single “national champion.” Even fans have no idea of what winning a national championship will feel like since they’re already satisfied with winning their own league. Now before you think, “Hey isn’t this like that American BCS?” well actually, it smells like it. There is no national champion, and the UAAP can claim with good reason that their league is the “national championship”.

So if fans won’t care about a national championship, and if the system ain’t broke, so why fix it? Why did Pato Gregorio suddenly out of nowhere hatched this idea? To guarantee at least one win for his beloved Maroons? The Blue Eagles won the Collegiate National Championship but there was no big bonfire along Katips.

Because us fans deserve better. You know why other people don’t give a damn? Because the results don’t affect their team’s league standings. If these games counted to their team standings during the elimination round, then several people will care about the Adamson-UPHSD game.

So what should be done to introduce the emotion of winning the “national championship” for fans everywhere?

I’d answer that tomorrow.

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