Is move for girls basketball the right decision after all??
Thursday's decision by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association to move girls basketball to winter in 2008-09 was greeted by mixed emotions, not the least from this corner of our newsroom.
I have always been opposed to the change on a number fronts. The reasoning has not changed, although the stance has softened.
For decades now, we have straddled that baseline between fairness and equality. That girls basketball was played in the spring here was one of both, where girls not only got a fair share of practice time at fair hours but also did not impact other sports.
Lack of facilities has always driven the Hawaii prep schedule. Girls basketball in the spring allowed for maximum amount of gym time at the best practice times with the best exposure.
It also allowed for a very balanced overall sports schedule. The move by basketball forces softball to spring, with the latter going bag-to-bag with Little League and other youth baseball and softball leagues.
Guarantee THAT dirt will take a long time to settle.
Many do not understand that a high school softball team cannot use a baseball field. It's basic math on the basepaths: 60 feet (softball) does not equal 90 feet (baseball).
That youth leagues will have to fight with the high schools for the park fields -- fields that, for the most, will part be empty during the former high school season -- is not right. That girls basketball triumphs over softball is not right, especially since Hawaii has always had an equitable solution with the current setup.
I truly believe that when attorney Jill Nunokawa, a civil rights specialist who has become the voice of the movement, played -- for Kaiser 1978-81 and UH 82-85 -- girls basketball not being "in season" hurt local players and limited the amazing scholarship opportunities that exist today. Back then, there were no traveling teams, Internet, e-mails, prep scouting services, cell phone video, instantaneous information.
However, there is no way now any young woman worth a scholarship in Hawaii would slip under the radar, regardless of when the season is played. And, I'm sorry, but a Division I-caliber player does not magically appear senior year.
And I won't get into Nunokawa's "justice delayed is justice denied." Try having played in 1969-73.
But this week's decision did give me a chance to dribble down memory lane and contact the athletic director at my high school. In 1969-70, basketball was queen at Cathedral Girls High School, which went co-ed with the all-boys University of San Diego High my sophomore year.
As Uni tried to absorb girls as well as the idea of girls athletics, the growing pains included practice times of 5:30 a.m. or 8 p.m., whenever the boys frosh, JV and varsity practices, P.E. classes and teachers' pick-up games were pau.
"Varsity boys and girls (basketball) have the priority practice times," said Dave Smola, who oversees 69 teams in 31 sports and will add two more sports next school year. "Currently, if there is a conflict and they can't work it out, I'll step in. With our new gym, we'll have two full courts, with a divider, and both will be able to practice at the same time."
While I do not see most Hawaii schools having the luxury of a divided gym, or even building their own softball field, I do hope that -- as happened at my high school -- somehow it will work out. I also hope that the few scholarships that might be gained by the change are worth what was lost.