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Prep ADs should fix state football problem

By Dave Reardon

LAST UPDATED: 1:50 a.m. HST, Jun 3, 2011

Once again, the state high school athletic directors annual confab can be noted more for what is not being discussed and voted upon than what is.

The state football tournaments should be pumped up to eight-team affairs.

Not on the agenda.

The number of teams in other tournaments should be contracted, not expanded.

Not on the agenda.

Classification needs to be taken to its logical extension.

Not on the agenda.

Someone proposed adding more teams to a state tournament, and it nearly passed. That's actually a great idea. But not for Division II basketball. I know I'm not the only one who thinks six-team football state tournaments don't make sense — especially in Division I.

Here's why: Your two top-seeded powerhouses are usually your best draws. A bye not only gives them a huge advantage they don't need, it cuts into the best revenue producer of all the state tourneys ... two doubleheaders featuring the best and most popular teams.

And an eight-team tournament gives the second-place Interscholastic League of Honolulu school an opportunity. While I've always felt that you are not owed a state tournament berth if you don't win your league, it does get ridiculous when that No. 2 ILH team is clearly the second or third best team in the state (or maybe even the best) but is forced to turn in the pads after the regular season.

A bye is an even more unfair advantage in baseball, because of pitching. So cut the baseball tournament to eight teams and three days. Save a day on hotel expenses. (On a related note, starting the state track and field meet on Maui an hour earlier was brilliant, since it gave schools from other islands the option of flying home that night. Good call.)

You can do the same with basketball — make ‘em all eight teams and three days.

So I'm basically saying make everything eight teams, with one exception I'll explain later.

Now, read on before you get in an uproar about the taking away opportunities for the kids and all that bad stuff.

While we'll be contracting most of the tournaments, we'll be adding a third classification to states, in the sports where it makes sense. For now, that means at least football and basketball.

One of the people who doesn't think I'm nuts is Chris Chun, the executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. The three classifications he envisions are "open," "big," and "small." That way, the powerful small enrollment schools like Kahuku and Saint Louis in football still compete for the prime-time title and those sandbagging large enrollment schools won't corrupt the small enrollment tournaments.

"I hope it will happen ... someday," Chun said.

Gender equity concerns? Yes, there is that if we're going to expand football and contract other sports.

My solution is to expand the girls volleyball tournament to include every school in the state — old-time Indiana basketball, "Hoosiers" style. You could classify it if you must, but the key operating premise is that every school gets into states in our state's signature team sport. It will draw, and if it's done right it can even make money.

There was one proposal I liked this week, something I called for when Hawaii first went to classification. But it died an unattended death so quiet no one seems to know exactly when it expired.

That was the idea to change the nomenclature of Division I and Division II to Division A and Division AA. Other states do it. It's just symbolic, to send a message that all state championships are created equal, while calling them I and II can be inferred to mean otherwise.

I don't know why it was quickly thrown on the refuse pile, and it really doesn't matter that much in the big scheme. I just hope that if it comes up again we'll be discussing the merits of A, AA and AAA versus I, II and III.


Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at, his "Quick Reads" blog at and

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