D-II titles are meant for little guys
Pearl City High is a large Oahu public school that has never won a state championship in either football or basketball.
Despite its huge enrollment (1,896 this past academic year), the way things are now the Chargers could conceivably play in a Division II state tournament.
Would I consider it a victory for alma mater dear if Pearl City should play in and happen to win a Division II tournament?
Division II is for the small schools, not large ones that underachieve the year prior. But those in control of the Oahu Interscholastic Association don't see it that way.
The classification system was not meant to be another political pawn for the OIA to use in a decades-old game of bitterness and revenge no one else wants to play.
Oh, you'll always hear plenty of excuses, especially complaints about resources, and how the public schools don't have them.
But the most important commodity (and customer) is the student-athlete, and having a comparatively larger number of them to draw from -- especially for football teams -- means a big school belongs in Division I.
Oversimplification? Not at all. If fairness is important in our educational system, you find a way to make things equitable, regardless. A system designed to level the playing field should not be twisted and abused, creating an opposite result.
Every state has challenges when it comes to classification, but they all work through them. I like to think that's what happens in Hawaii. For the most part, it has, except for this kink allowing big schools in the tourneys not intended for them.
When it comes to basketball, I wouldn't mind going back to one tournament if it means getting away from the possibility of farces like last season's Aiea-Farrington boys basketball Division II final. Small-school victories a la "Hoosiers" are possible because of the nature of the sport -- one great player can lead a gang of gritty teammates all the way to the top in hoops.
But last year's D-II title game was a joke. It was entertaining, but that's beside the point.
Hawaii Baptist AD Deren Oshiro is being a nice guy when he says his team was just "happy to be there." D-II was intended for teams like his, and that of quarterfinalist Kohala, schools with small enrollments. HBA should have been playing for the hardware instead of third place.
Folks can talk about unique geography and league configuration all they want, but the logjam toward doing what makes sense and is fair is also a byproduct of long-standing bitterness over recruiting. This is pretty tiresome considering many public schools continue to raid each other's turf for athletes. Check out how many district exceptions are on the rosters of the OIA's top teams in various sports.
The OIA had a legitimate beef 38 years ago when it broke away from the ILH. But now, the two Oahu leagues are aligned together against what would be right for the state. Who's the bully now?
As an alumnus, I'd like to see Pearl City win a state title in football or basketball during my lifetime. But unless the enrollment of my old school shrinks considerably, in my mind it would not count if it's not in Division I.
is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter who covers University of Hawaii football and other topics. His column appears periodically.
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