PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Ritchie Garcia has rebuffed calls to ban combat sports like boxing from elementary and high school-level competitions following a bout in a regional meet in Zambales that left a teenaged boxer comatose.
Garcia said officials running school competitions should reinforce safety measures during competition, but added that a total ban of combat sports from the youth level is not necessary.
“Banning is not the answer. The answer is study how to be safe and how it should be done properly,” Garcia said. “For example, if you got hit by a baseball bat (during a game) and the player dies, dapat i-ban ba ang baseball? It doesn’t work that way.”
Calls for a ban on combat sports mounted after a 16-year-old boxer was left in critical condition after a tough match during the Central Luzon Regional Athletic Association meet, a qualifying event for the Department of Education-organized Palarong Pambansa, in Iba, Zambales.
The fighter complained of dizziness during the second round of the fight and fell into coma. Reports said the teenager got the clearance from doctors before the fight.
Garcia noted that boxing is a sport in the Youth Olympic Games and he said it is sad to hear such clamor from Filipinos.
“This is sad because this is always the case whenever something like this happens. Sports can be very safe if they follow certain rules. Still, accidents happen,” said Garcia.
Garcia clarified that national sports associations (NSAs) don’t usually run competitions in regional meets as he urged Department of Education to have due diligence in the selection of officials.
“This is a DepEd affair and the NSAs only come in upon the invitation of DepEd. If they need this kind of support, then they will request the NSA for officials or whatever they need. In the absence of a request, hindi naman kami puwedeng pumasok.
“This should be looked into kung qualified by ang mga referees because this is a contact sport. I’m sure if they were professional referees, they could have stopped the fight,” Garcia added.