The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) will be launching its 87th season today, July 2, at the Araneta Coliseum. There will be 10 participating schools, with the Lyceum of the Philippines (LPU) as guest team.
The NCAA is the oldest athletic league in the country. Established in 1924, it is the predecessor of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), which is only in its 74th season. With all the tradition and the history of the NCAA, why does it seem to be an inferior league when compared to the UAAP?
In comparing both leagues several issues come to mind as to why the UAAP seems to be more popular than the NCAA.
Perhaps it would feel like heaven for an NCAA member school to have scheduled game on a weekend (hinting they schedule the finals match on a weekend). The Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule of the NCAA seems to make students and alumni wary of watching games since they are pretty much work days. Whereas, the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday schedule of the UAAP is obviously the most convenient.
Inactive crowds vs taunting crowds
If you have watched games in both leagues, you’ll notice the stark difference in fan base—and not just the discrepancy in number. “Stark” is an understatement. It is evident that the UAAP crowd is more passionate than the NCAA crowd. Considering that UAAP schools are universities, and big ones at that, they have more students who attend the games as compared to NCAA member schools. But, I think this difference in student quantity is in favor of NCAA schools, since it would be easier to instill school spirit in the students.
The NCAA crowd lacks the spunk that the UAAP crowds bring to the arena. And what’s wrong with seeing two schools clap for each other after a game?
You would also notice there is a lot more jeering and taunting by the NCAA crowd compared to UAAP’s. School one: “Umuwi na kayo!” Losing school: “May kotse kami!” That’s just a sample of the many wisecracks you hear in the NCAA, but there’s no school spirit in these actions.
In the UAAP you’d get annoyed if they cut the half-time performances to commercial break. In the NCAA, people seem to go on merienda break even before their own squad gets to perform. Some squads need a lesson in showing some pep? The only saving grace is seeing cute pudgy kids perform in American Indian costume, or if it’s the older alumni.
Training ground for UAAP stars
It has been common knowledge that NCAA high school players with great potential transfer to UAAP schools. History shows that a lot of great players who left their mark in the UAAP came from the NCAA juniors division.
Again, the university factor comes into play, as apart from the bigger exposure, “offers” from the UAAP schools have been more appealing.
If you ask any college “cager” what his career path is, most likely his answer would be to play for a team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Currently, in the PBA, out of the nine participating teams, there are at least 125 players in the official team lineups.
Out of this number, more than 50 or about 40 percent of players come from UAAP schools, about 25 or 20 percent come from the NCAA, and the rest are either from provincial schools, half-Filipino players, or imports. From this “culture” we can see that what entices junior players from the NCAA to go to UAAP schools is the exposure to talent scouts from PBA teams.
It’s not really that the UAAP is more popular than the NCAA, but rather, population-wise, the UAAP has a bigger fan base than the NCAA. Most of the UAAP schools have at least 10,000 students as compared to NCAA schools, which have less than that.
But again, this should work to the advantage of the NCAA, since it would be easier to teach school cheers. And it is the responsibility of the NCAA Management Committee (Mancom) to control both the players and the crowd, although this duty is also incumbent upon all participating schools.