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Dave Reardon Press Box

Dave Reardon

Sunday, June 6, 2004


Shedding private school
competition would insult
public school athletes


No Kahuku beating Saint Louis for the state football championship. No Konawaena and Kahuku meeting for the girls basketball crown after besting a field including the three best private school teams on Oahu. No Pearl City sprinting through the wind and rain to take the state track and field championship, with three other public schools placing second through fourth.

No more public schools competing against private schools. It's just not fair for the poor, downtrodden public school kids who don't have a chance, who are forced to run uphill on the unlevel playing field.

Some people actually believe this. The scary thing is they are part of the policy-making machine. There is a handful of education administrators in our state who think it would be great if the athletes and teams representing public high schools in Hawaii never play another sports event against those from private schools.

They're sneaky though. Try to get them on the record and they run and hide.

Such a split is on the agenda now. The hidden agenda. It's hard to drum up support for a truly stupid concept, but they're trying.

If it gets to a point where there's enough juice to try to really sell this publicly, they will say it is with your children in mind. Don't believe it for a second. The only things at stake are the egos of these dinosaurs. Personal jealousies from decades ago have nothing to do with today's athletes and their willingness -- and increasing ability -- to compete with anyone.

They'll bring up recruiting, which is hypocritical, especially in these days when any student can find a legitimate reason to attend a public school out of district.

Every now and then, some version of this lame idea does actually appear on an actual meeting plan, in black and white. I've seen it. But if you ask about it, it gets explained away as hypothetical brainstorming, or an informal discussion of nonexistent liability issues, or some other such nonsense.

The truth is there are some bitter old men out there who want to use today's high school athletes as pawns in their game to settle grudges going on 35 years.

Do private schools win more state championships than public schools in Hawaii? True, but the gap has narrowed significantly in the past few years.

Do private schools generally have more athletic resources than public schools? Of course.

Does this mean public schools should give up and not try to win state championships by competing against and beating private school teams? Absolutely not.

The last thing we need to teach children is to back away from tough competition. It's true that you learn as much or more from losing as winning.

Public school athletes, coaches and athletic directors have accomplished great things, especially in recent years.

It would be ludicrous to tell the next generation of athletes like Natasha Kai, Ashley Lelie, Jerome Williams, Kaleo Eldredge, Kurt Suzuki and Vera Simms that they're simply not good enough to play against the private schools.

Maybe while we're at it, we should tell public school kids not to bother with other statewide competitions that include private school students. Let them have all the science fair and school newspaper awards ... and scholarships, too.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Dave Reardon is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter who covers University of Hawaii football and other topics. His column appears periodically. E-mail him at dreardon@starbulletin.com

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