High school leagues should not let TV call the shots
Money should not be a determining factor for a team's senior night being canceled.
It happened to the Kahuku boys basketball team to end the OIA regular season so the game with Kalaheo could be shown on Oceanic Cable 16 at Mililani High School.
Kahuku coach Nathan James was justified in being upset for a variety of reasons, including his seniors being denied the opportunity to play their final home game in front of family and friends, potluck included.
And that can't be given back -- ever.
While the wealthy ILH schools would never allow such a thing -- and perhaps that's why they aren't on television -- the poorer OIA can't afford to be as discriminating. The athletic directors on that side of the fence are out beating the coconut trees to fund the various prep programs around the island, leaving them vulnerable to a fledging entity as OC-16.
They've got the cash and the demands that go with it, and it forced the Red Raiders and their close-knit community to pack their belongings and head up the dangerous road to Mililani all in the name of wireless hookup. It may be a coincidence that one of the schools wired for cable is practically across the street in Mililani, but folks doubt it.
Kalaheo head coach Chico Furtado has felt James' pain many times before. He told the Star-Bulletin in January, "That's part of the athletic world we live in with the OIA. Oceanic controls the contract and games get moved."
Sounds simple enough, but imagine how Campbell head coach Glenn Flores felt upon learning being the No. 1 seed in the OIA meant you had to travel to No. 3 seed Mililani in the OIA semifinals to play the Trojans on their home floor. Are you kidding?
The explanation given by the OIA gets even better. Just because you win the regular season doesn't mean a thing compared to the "working relationship" with Oceanic. They've gotta go where they have the fiber optics and that happens to be in Mililani. Campbell lost, 69-66, but who exactly won?
WHAT OC-16 PROVIDES is fine on many levels. It gives publicity to the OIA and its member schools. The player profiles are fun, the production level of the broadcasts is sound and the men and women bringing you the telecast have done this before.
But when you start moving games around to provide what you believe is the best matchup, then problems are sure to arise. First of all, just how many fans are actually watching these games? Most of the people directly affected are students, family and friends, and they're going to the game, no matter what.
That doesn't leave a lot of interested parties at home watching. While there may be some mild interest outside the two schools involved it couldn't possibly be enough to justify a school like Kahuku giving up so much, for so little in return.
The next contract that comes around needs some revisions. When the cable starts wagging the community, it's time to put it back on its leash.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org