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Sports as we know it today has been a part of Philippine culture since the late 19th century. Early observers have noted however that Filipinos in general have adopted a rather passive approach to competition. Perhaps this can be attributed to how Philippine society has evolved under colonial rule for three and a half centuries.
Despite having 7,107 islands, all the inland seas and access to two major bodies of water, an inclination towards watersports is oddly not high on the list of sports-minded Filipinos as a casual observer would otherwise note. There is no doubt that the prevailing socio-economic issues and conditions have aptly dictated the general state of sports in the Philippines.
While there is no shortage of participation in several team and individual sports, the level of competition generated across the board has simply lagged behind world class standards. Lack of innovative training methods, state-of-the art facilities, and modern equipment are usually cited as undermining the potential of Filipino athletes. Nevertheless, the politics surrounding Philippine sports probably ranks higher on the list and this has undoubtedly cast a dark shadow on hindering the growth of sports across the archipelago. This despite the early accolades afforded to the country through the early part of the second half of the 20th century when the Philippines produced world-class talent in baseball, football/soccer, basketball, track and field, and swimming among popular sports.
Presently, there exists an odd disparity prevalent in Philippine sports. On one end of the spectrum is a general populace whose exposure is limited to what can be afforded a third world country. On the other end is a segment of society whose exposure is that of the developed world, where active involvement is prevalent, but only to a minority. Such a situation has subsequently limited the available talent base.
There are five major team sports in the Philippines that are quite popular to differing degrees. Baseball, softball, football/soccer, basketball, and volleyball are generally among those sports Filipinos have embraced. Boxing, golf, tennis, badminton, biking/cycling are among the more prevalent individual pursuits. Running, weight/power-lifting, aerobics, and the martial arts of karate-do and tae-kwon-do are likewise popular endeavours especially among the health conscious. On the water front, swimming continues to be popular, while scuba/underwater diving, canoeing, sailing, and body/wind surfing have also found their niche. On another front cockfighting, horse racing, auto/cart/drag/motor racing, and jai-alai also have a big following.
The general perception however is that due to the above-mentioned socio-ecnomomic considerations, some sports have flourished more than others, but that is by no means an indication of the sports Filipinos enjoy. One only need visit the country and immerse himself/herself and discover society across the islands. Suffice it to say, Filipinos have already warmed up to more than just passive participation in sports.
A good trend to watch is the growth of outdoor, extreme, and endurance sports which is gradually gaining acceptance across the islands especially among the younger generation and the environmentally conscious nature-lovers. Among these are in-line/roller skating, in-line hockey, kite/wake boarding, kite/ski surfing, rock-climbing/scrambling, mountaineering, and frisbee.
Disabled sports in the Philippines is still in its infancy if only because awareness and implementation of the rights of the disabled in the Philippines is very poor or non-existent. Many of the disabled athletes are enlisted by the Philippine military and it is rare to find a civilian disabled athlete.