POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 01, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 02:23 a.m. HST, Feb 01, 2011
There's always a sense of sadness when the Pro Bowl leaves our town.
It's like the last night at the county fair that climbs in the car with you for the long ride home. Two hours after a Cleveland Browns center scored the final touchdown in a 96-point football exhibition, Aloha Stadium was empty; they'd taken the big top down.
Since Thanksgiving, the island chain has spent time swapping stories with the best of the best in a variety of sports. Starting with the Maui Invitational and its Final Four feel right up to Sunday afternoon's Pro Bowl, local sports fans have been blessed.
Two college basketball tournaments deemed ESPN-worthy, the return of Hawaii to the Hawaii Bowl, surf sets befitting the Triple Crown, two PGA Tour fields full of stars and all of them leading up to the Goo Goo Dolls -- what a perfect closing act as the national television cameras fade to black.
We'll do it all again come the fall, but it gets a little fuzzy after that. The National Football League isn't making many long-range plans these days, what with its pending labor dispute filling the docket.
Our new governor sent a mixed message to NFL officials by pulling the laser on any more Aloha Stadium facelifts. Promising to tinker with the Hawaii Tourism Authority's budget as well is another cause for concern, especially if doing business with the NFL carries a yearly price tag of $5 million or more.
During the Sunday Fox telecast, commentator Terry Bradshaw said Hawaii was the perfect place for the Pro Bowl. Many players were asked last week where they'd like this game held, and nobody said, "I hear Indianapolis is lovely this time of year." Not even Peyton Manning.
WHAT COULD HURT Hawaii's cause even more than well-meaning government officials is lack of media mainland interest. Newspaper reporters don't travel like they once did. When Tiger Woods was playing Maui regularly and the Pro Bowl was held after the Super Bowl, national newspapers and magazines sent correspondents to tell the folks back home how wonderful it is here in the winter time.
No more. The only papers covering the PGA Tour's opening event on Maui were the Maui News and the Star-Advertiser. Gone were the L.A. Times, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and papers from as far away as London and Ireland.
The same could be said of Sunday's Pro Bowl. Last year's game in Miami had the most national media in years because they were already in town for the Super Bowl the following Sunday. The only national papers represented here on Sunday were the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. And three of those were manned by local stringers.
That's not good for product placement, even with television ratings shooting through the roof. Staring at all those empty Aloha Stadium seats 2 hours after Sunday's closing act felt a little like the last day at the county fair. But only a few media members were climbing into the car for the long ride home.
Paul Arnett is the sports editor of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.