After a lengthy discussion, the UAAP board finalized their decision to extend the maximum number of playing years to seven, two more years than the current five allowed by the league.
The rationale behind this decision was to give players the option to pursue further studies in their respective universities while still being eligible to play for their team. With this, student athletes will no longer have to extend their stay in the school by underloading their units for each term just so they can play the maximum five years. Also, it will be possible for them to pursue minor courses or even postgraduate degrees without them having to worry about not being able to play for their team.
According to Office of Sports Development (OSD) Director Emmanuel Calanog, who is currently part of the UAAP Board, this decision will definitely impact the varsity teams of each school. One of the concerns he mentioned was that the rookies may have a more difficult time making an impact on their team since it is possible that a lot of the veterans will still be retained, thus affecting their playing time.
“Though it may be hard at first, I believe that it will help them grow even more later on,” he said.
He then explained that the UAAP is a training ground for these athletes, especially if they are planning to pursue a sports career. “By extending the number of playable years, athletes will have more opportunities to further improve their skills before entering the professional league,” said Calanog.
As mentioned, it also gives them more time to become more well-rounded as students. Calanog added, “These students can even take this opportunity to pursue more courses that will help them even more as a person… it is hard to give up something you love such as your sport just for the sake of pursuing more studies which is why with this ruling, however, they won’t have to make that compromise.”
One of the other benefits of this rule is that transferees will have more years to play as compared to before, when it had to be reduced due to their residency. Unfortunately, athletes that transfer to another school will still have to undergo a residency period in order to compete and therefore will still have fewer playing years compared to the other players who don’t transfer colleges. Yet with this new ruling, they will have more opportunities to contribute to their teams in whatever way they can.
“In the past, we’ve seen athletes playing for less than two to three years and afterwards leaving the league na parang nabibitin. We also wanted to give these athletes a chance to play more for their team through this,” Calanog mentioned.
In spite of all this, it all goes down to what each individual athlete wants regarding their direction in the UAAP. Just as it is upon their discretion whether they want to pursue further studies or not, them playing for the additional years is also optional. Imposing such a rule may affect how teams will operate, but sat the end of the day, it is the player who decides what he wants to do.
“Through this, we have given them [the athletes] the power to choose their direction. Whether they decide to stay or forego the additional years is entirely up to them,” Calanog ended.