Pat Bigold

The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Klompuses out of
prep football mix

THAT old Fats Domino refrain is playing in my head:

"Ain't It a Shame."

The deal proposed by Bowl Games of Hawaii to handle the first state prep football tournament has been withdrawn.

Directors Lenny and Marcia Klompus simply couldn't wait any longer for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association to embrace the offer.

Seems the HHSAA needed to get all of the leagues on board to accept the deal, which would have included logistical help, money up front and attractive advertising packages linked to the bowls.

There's no telling how long it would've taken the leagues to decide. The bowl directors were not about to gum up their current projects by waiting indefinitely.

Certainly can't blame them for that.

Klompus said the HHSAA's executive director, Keith Amemiya, seemed enthusiastic when he met with him about the offer. As a result, Klompus extended his deadline for an answer from July 9 to July 16.

With corporate advertising budgets quickly closing for the fourth quarter and the announcement of the tournament still a warm topic of discussion, Klompus felt this was the time to act.

Sponsorship money has always been difficult to come by for state tournaments and the inaugural state football event carries with it unprecedented cost challenges.

THE Klompuses, whose track record in creating and reviving major sporting events in the islands is impressive, said their goal would have been to help the HHSAA just break even after the first tournament. They knew they could sell it, and that it would have a promising future. There'd be plentiful revenue in the long run.

But even the Klompuses saw the formidability of getting it off the ground without losing a bundle.

Time is of the essence, and one of the first things they said the project needed was a point man - or woman.

Someone to make decisions like the critical one that was not made by July 16.

The HHSAA executive board, which gave the green light to draw up plans for the tournament last March, should have immediately given someone full decision-making authority for the project. Or they should have given that authority to Amemiya.

The Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association approved a tournament format in June, and the HHSAA executive board stamped its approval on the format shortly thereafter.

When are they going to break the huddles and give someone the football?

AIEA High School Principal Gary Griffiths, who was president of the Oahu Interscholastic Association at the time of the March meeting, knew how big an undertaking the football tournament would be. In fact, he voted against it.

"The financial issue concerns us," is what he said. "And the inherited cost of football is far greater than any other sport we're running because it's probably going to be a multiple weekend playoff type of format."

There will be a state tournament. Don't worry about that. It's just going to be a lot harder for the leagues to put together the kind of event we'd like to see in Hawaii.

The Prep Bowl was at its most marketable point when the plug was pulled on it.

The surprising pay-per-view audience for the St. Louis vs. Kahuku game proved how much potential prep football has in a state devoid of major pro franchises.

It would be a huge shame not to see that potential harvested.

Saddest of all, Klompus said he had sponsors ready to jump in once they got the word the tournament would be tied in with the Aloha, Oahu and Hula bowls.

Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.

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