The biennial Southeast Asian Games is a showcase where the Philippines typically excel as one the top powers in the region, along with Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. However, in this year’s event held in Myanmar, the Philippines is languishing near the bottom of the medal tally, owing to the host nation’s inclusion of indigenous sports and a fewer-than-expected athlete delegation. And the lack of television coverage justifies that.
In the past, the People’s Television Network was responsible for covering most of the SEA Games events, from the opening to the closing ceremony. However, with PTV suffering from negligence and a lack of funds, coverage of this year’s SEA Games was restricted only to the internet and print media, with a few key sports being covered on TV.
ABS-CBN’s UHF channel Studio 23 is currently airing the Philippines team’s men’s basketball, women’s football and boxing events. These events are being aired simply due to its high interest; other sports such as swimming and athletics were not included due to its lack of viewership and Studio 23’s loaded programming.
Clearly there is little attention to the SEA Games these days. The Philippine Olympic Committee is now focused on training its athletes for the Olympics, with the hope of giving the Philippines its first gold medal. While the SEA Games will remain a part of the POC’s schedule, the event is now being treated as a ‘developmental meet’ for the nation’s up-and-coming athletes, and not as an important multi-sport event.
It is unknown if Philippine TV coverage of the SEA Games will return to normal come the 2015 meet in Singapore. For now, the important matter is for the athletes to continue their improvement and succeed, in hopes of preparing for a higher level of competition.