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State board stonewalls neighbor island proposals

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Three neighbor island proposals hit a wall yesterday as the executive board of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association voted on 30 proposals overall recommended by athletic directors.

The proposals were passed by ADs at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association on Saturday, and all but three were approved by league presidents. The three that crashed all involved the neighbor islands.

» A measure to add the Maui Interscholastic League and Big Island Interscholastic Federation to the soccer tournament hosting rotation was voted down 54-39. The proposal would have allowed Maui or the Big Island to host the state soccer tourney once every three years. It had passed at HIADA by a narrow 46-40 count with four abstentions.

Voters from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu vote independently at the conference, but at the HHSAA level, the ILH often votes as a block, and that made the difference, as the Oahu members outnumbered their neighbor island counterparts.

Revenue and expenses were crucial to the debate. MIL executive director Joe Balangitao researched the numbers for two soccer tournaments held on Maui. He found that the state boys tournament netted $11,489 in 2004 and the rain-drenched ’06 girls tourney netted $10,871.

"We’re only asking to host every few years so it’s fair to our kids and parents," Balangitao said.

However, moving the tourney from Oahu to another island would actually cost the HHSAA significant revenue. Executive director Christopher Chun and OIA chief Dwight Toyama estimated that hosting the D-I state tourney generates roughly $20,000.

"Our thing is to make sure the HHSAA doesn’t lose money," Toyama said.

If the HHSAA were to host D-II at a separate location, that would generate even more revenue.

"We thought it had a shot, but we’re not surprised," BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier said. "Maybe we’ll try a four-year rotation (proposal) next year."

Though Toyama said he’s open to the idea of a four- or five-year rotation, neighbor island programs will continue to shoulder the costs – non-subsidized – of traveling for all soccer tournaments.

"Our parents want to see their kids play in state tournaments," Crozier said. "Some (parents) just can’t afford to travel. They have to do fundraisers for everything just to get the kids to Oahu."

Chun is optimistic about neighbor island inclusion as hosts in soccer.

"One day, we’ll get there," he said.

» A move to allow the eight-team state tournaments, which involve only boys sports, to have an extra (third) game in consolation play was rejected 54-39. Again, the measure passed at the HIADA level 60-30, but couldn’t sustain momentum as the Oahu leagues voted in blocks.

"There’s still some concerns. We were the only league for it," Crozier said. "We’ll try again next year. We’ve got to iron this out."

Adding extra games and increasing the expense of paying for umpires and officials adds up to a tidy sum, but neighbor island teams simply wanted an extra game by playing morning or mid-day before departing later in the day.

"Their thinking is strictly on lines of economics," BIIF president Robert Dircks said. "That’s not how we approach it. We all have different approaches. Our parents will come no matter what. They start fundraising early."

Chun noted that adding games just for boys eight-team tournaments wouldn’t be fair.

"That’s gender equity. We would’ve shown them favoritism," said Chun, who practiced law before becoming HHSAA chief.

It’s possible, he added, that tournaments for boys and girls may get extra games if costs are controlled.

"Part of the trade-off is that I’m going to hotels and airlines to see if they can allow for a change of (departure) times," he said.

» Perhaps the most perplexing defeat came on the proposal that would have officially declared D-II team and individual champions in all sports, including water polo.

That issue left the board stumped for a while, since water polo doesn’t have large numbers, period, let alone a D-II entry. If only one D-II team plays water polo statewide, detractors of the proposal questioned how that team would merit any kind of state title.

In addition, the cost of added team trophies and individual medals across the board would’ve been at least $10,000, according to Chun.

Non-voting discussion included a note from Balangitao regarding the D-II state softball tourney. The event was played at Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park, where scoreboards were not in use. Though the HHSAA purchased portable scoreboards for the tourney, Balangitao observed that they were small and hard to see for most fans. He also cautioned that Title IX could play into this concern if the environment isn’t up to the same standards that boys sports enjoy.

Last year’s D-II baseball tourney was played at CORP without the use of scoreboards, but the event moved to Hans L’Orange Park this past spring, where the scoreboard is functioning well.

See voting results at www.hawaiiprepworld.com.

 

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