IT WAS a class roll call unlike any other. SEA Games medalists Agatha Wong, Cheska Altomonte, and Nikko Huelgas. Rain or Shine's Gabe Norwood. Creamline's Jia Morado. The International Olympic Committee's Mikee Cojuangco. UAAP executive director Rebo Saguisag.
Their classroom, however, was a virtual one.
Putting their spare time to good use, these top athletes and sports authorities came to know more about their rights and obligations as they attended an online lecture on Sports Law 101.
Their instructor was Mickey Ingles, a specialist in sports law in the firm Ingles Laurel Calderon, and author of the book Laws for Sports and the Sporty. (Ingles is also a SPIN Life columnist.) He conducted a two-hour free online class on Monday, March 23, to fuel his long-time advocacy in the field, and take advantage of the available time these athletes had in their hands with the COVID-19 outbreak lockdown.
“There are a lot of legal issues in sports, and sometimes the athletes are not aware of it," Ingles told SPIN Life.
"It’s easier for some people to abuse their rights because they, themselves, don’t know what their rights are, and it is important,” he continued. “Basically the class is a briefer for what sports law is here in the Philippines. This isn’t talked about, and the awareness isn’t there yet, and that’s what I’m trying to raise.”
Wushu athlete Agatha Wong, who has never had any qualms in promoting Filipino athletes’ rights, jumped at the chance to sign up for the class and know more about the topic she is quite vocal about.
“When I learned about this, I knew it was a good opportunity for me to widen my knowledge and expand what I know in this certain topic," she said to SPIN Life.
Recalling her call for action a few months back, the Diplomatic Affairs graduate said, "Kasi ‘yun nga, I brought the attention on RA 10699, [on] the 20-percent discount on national athletes, but I do know na hindi lang ito ‘yung law for us and the coaches. I did want to deepen my knowledge in this topic, I want to understand the process and legislation.”
In the curriculum were injuries and its legal remedies, as well as labor and employment on professional sports, the student-athlete protection act, and, of course, the national athletes and coaches’ benefits and rights.
Wong understood that the knowledge about these laws shouldn't just stop with her or classmates.
“As an athlete, I think I have to start educating our forthcoming athletes, especially yung mga bata, and schools have to start initiating workshops involving sports law. For an instance, when an athlete from the province would come to Manila, minsan hindi niya alam na ina-abuso nap ala siya,” she said.
She added: “When I read the book [Laws for Sports and the Sporty], I was surprised [na] ang dami palang law na I should’ve brought up before and I could’ve prevented some situations that happened to me that shouldn’t have happened.”
Ingles shared that the two-hour session was fun and interactive, given that some participants shared their personal take and firsthand accounts of some of the issues tackled in the lecture.
“They asked insightful questions, I saw where they’re coming and what concerns them the most," he said. Ingles mentioned that the infamous "FIBA Basketbrawl" was brought up, as well as the forthcoming Olympics.