An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Here’s to the OIA for
doing the right thing

THIS and that to chew on over lunch:


Here's to the Oahu Interscholastic Association for voting unanimously to pull out of the Prep Bowl.

The public reason for it is the four-years-to-play-four rule that is the policy of the OIA and the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.

Currently the Interscholastic League of Honolulu allows its student athletes five years to play four. The OIA does not. Hence the trouble, they say.

But I'm not so sure this is about that so much as it is about control -- of state tournament sponsorships, television contracts and other assorted potential revenue streams.

For years, local TV stations, especially KFVE, have wanted to televise the Prep Bowl. The OIA was willing, but not the ILH.

That league usually cited reasons that ranged from TV hurting the gate to not wanting to overemphasize athletics.


Well, the OIA must have finally gotten sick of it. Seeing $100,000 in gross pay-per-view revenue has a way of doing that to athletic leagues. That's about how much Oceanic Cable took in on its broadcast of the Prep Bowl last fall. Eight thousand subscribers plunked down $12.95 to watch St. Louis win its 13th straight title.

Those kinds of numbers will make you sit up and take notice, at least when you're a public school that is struggling to make ends meet while competing against institutions that charge as much as a thousand bucks a month, per kid, to walk through the door.

I say, way to go, OIA.

The ILH's reasoning that TV hurts the gate is similar to what pro baseball owners said when radio stations approached them about broadcasting their games live ... 70-some years ago.

Give away the product? No one will come to the games, they argued. And so it went, even for television.

That kind of antiquated thinking was soon dispelled. The more exposure the games got, the more people wanted to go see the action live.

It will be here, too.

"We would have loved to do the Prep Bowl and if they do a state playoff, we'd love to do that as well," KFVE/KHNL general manager John Fink said.

It's been said in this space before and I'll say it again: The HHSAA needs to more aggressively market their product. Prep sports is a highly marketable product. Parents and friends and aunties and uncles all spend money and that means business, whether it's marketed on TV or through corporate sponsorships of the state tournaments.

"I think it's a very smart move on their part," KFVE sportscaster Jim Leahey said.

Amen to that. The ILH, driven by Prep Bowl champion St. Louis, will come around and the OIA knows it.

It's their game now.


Speaking of following the money, how about Texas Christian giving football coach Dennis Franchione just short of a million bucks a year?

And we thought 400 grand for June Jones was a big chunk of change.

Look closely at Franchione's contract language and you'll see something that might startle many here who are still euphoric over Jones' hiring.

There is an incentive clause for a national championship in the deal, Franchione's, that is.

Hmmm. The Western Athletic Conference can't even get a national television deal, let alone a voice in the Bowl Championship Series.

You don't suppose ... nah, they tell us over at the University of Hawaii it'll never happen, that we should remain calm and that all is well.

But you don't suppose TCU, Southern Methodist and Rice are already making plans to get out of the WAC, do you?

As they say in Fargo:

You're darn tootin'.

Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.

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