We need rules to have a semblance of order in how we interact as human beings. Some are unwritten but understood by everyone involved as law and should be followed without question. Most are documented as to not have any uncertainty for all concerned. Some of the rules are more important than others as they have heavier consequences.
In basketball, similar circumstances can be applied. There are some unwritten, where if you play and follow the sport, you know it’s part of the game, and there are some official guidelines written in a rulebook to get everyone on the same page. Some are also more important than others.
For those who know basketball, there is an unwritten rule that you acknowledge your teammate who passed you the ball that led to a basket by pointing to them after the play. You also never undercut a player while he’s in midair. And you shouldn’t talk back to your coach during a game. All these “understood” rules have different levels of consequences if not followed. Whether it’s not getting the ball more often, being on the receiving end of an unwanted retaliation elbow, or sitting on the bench longer than normal, the result reciprocates the rule broken.
Through the many decades of their existence, the UAAP and the NCAA have written and revised many rules for their basketball tournament. Player eligibilities, uniforms, game play, citizenship, and even the time allotted for cheerleaders to perform have regulations. All are important to uphold the integrity, order, and credibility of the league. But again, some should be more significant than others.
A few weeks ago, Sam Ekwe of San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions, along with Kirk Long and Vince Burke of the Ateneo (ADMU) Blue Eagles wore uniforms with a slight difference from the rest of their teammates. All three were in violation of not wearing their official team uniforms since some sponsor logos and the like were different or missing compared to the rest of their teammates. Both the Red Lions and the Blue Eagles won their matches convincingly. The opponent of SBC, the College of St. Benilde (CSB) filed a protest. The University of the Philippines (UP) who played Ateneo during their game in question did not. The CSB protest resulted in the forfeiture of the SBC win.
For whatever reason given, whether valid or not, SBC and ADMU broke the rules. The NCAA was absolutely correct to follow their rules in taking away the win of San Beda if that was the written law. No interpretations needed. You wear the wrong uniform while playing on the court, the game is an automatic loss for your team. If UP filed a protest, the UAAP would have probably followed their rules which I reckon are similar to the NCAA’s and would also ruin their top team’s undefeated season at that point. That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.
Inside and outside basketball, rules are made giving different levels of penalties commensurate to the offense. Within any given game, different violations merit different results. Free throws, technical fouls, turnovers, and the like are granted for various infractions.
Along the same lines, I do believe that both leagues have to consider different levels of penalties for different infractions for future seasons. Giving a victory to a team who was obviously outplayed on the court because an opposing player wore a slightly different uniform doesn’t seem right. Fielding a player who did not pass the eligibility requirements is a much graver offense than having an extra logo on your jersey. But both have the same consequence. There are other ways to reprimand lighter violations. A monetary fine, a suspension for that player during the next game, or even community service are options. The UAAP slapped two technical free throws in favor of Ateneo in their first game against La Salle when Franz Pumaren failed to wear a required ID.
Life is not much different. All actions don’t all have the same consequences. Whatever rules we have in court, corporations, schools, clubs, fraternities, organizations, associations, and all other groups, the penalties are derived from the gravity of the felony. Those who arrive late for meetings are not as accountable versus those who don’t arrive at all. Those who steal won’t be serving the same amount of jail time as those who kill. And of course those who wear the wrong uniforms to school would have a better chance to make it up compared to those who fail a final exam.
Players should wear the right uniforms just as they should pass their courses in school. But let’s keep in mind which one is more important and penalize accordingly.
That’s how it is in real life and that’s how it should be in basketball.