Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Saturday, August 14, 1999

Remember Hooters
for role in saving
Hula Bowl

HAWAII Rainbow football spirits are up. So are the season-ticket sales. Everything's all right in the sports world -- so far.

As UH head football coach June Jones kidded all summer, "I'm still undefeated."

Maybe not for long because the USC Trojans will have something to say about it. But right now, everything's copacetic.

Things are also looking up for the Hula Bowl, which has a new title sponsor for the next three years in More than that, it has the hearty endorsement of Big Brother NCAA. The Hula Bowl will be the NCAA's official all-star game.

It doesn't get any better than this.

With the NCAA, the American Football Coaches Association, the National Association of Athletic Directors and the Collegiate Commissioners Association all behind it, the Hula Bowl is indeed alive and well and entering the new millennium viable as ever.

More so with the association of the Downtown Athletic Club as well, since that group sponsors the Heisman Award, virtually assuring that the winner will play in the Hula Bowl.

THE Klompuses -- Lenny and Marcia -- deserve most of the credit for saving the Hula Bowl, especially when Kodak withdrew its title sponsorship.

But before anyone forgets, let's also hear it for Hooters, which kept the Hula Bowl on a life support system for the last four years.

There was a huge hullabaloo when the Hula Bowl hooked up with Hooters, a national restaurant chain which featured you know what.

Feminists, in particular, were irate, which wasn't surprising.

Even many AFCA members felt somewhat uncomfortable about the association with Hooters.

Still, Grant Teaff, a God-fearing former Baylor football coach and now executive director of the AFCA, was tolerant, realizing it was a necessary "evil" for the good of the game.

At the time, no one else stepped up to save Hawaii's longstanding college all-star football game.

If it weren't for Hooters, the Hula Bowl wouldn't have been around to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1996. Nor would it have had a long-term TV contract with ESPN.

"We owe a lot to Hooters for their sponsorship," Lenny Klompus told the Star-Bulletin. "They came along and helped keep this tradition-rich game alive when things didn't look good."

NOW with new sponsor, a Seattle-based Internet and publishing company, the Hula Bowl will be held for the 54th time next Jan. 22 at the War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku, Maui.

Maybe it's in keeping with these times where everything is "dot com" as that beer commercial with Norm Macdonald goes.

The new sponsor will provide national exposure - but in a far different way than Hooters did. It has the largest collegiate website in the nation, enabling the Hula Bowl to join the "dot com" age. might not be a snazzy name for a title sponsor - Hooters does grab your attention, doesn't it? - but it is politically correct. So we and the Hula Bowl can continue to move on.

However, let's not forget the invaluable role during the interim that Hooters played in bailing out the Hula Bowl, which provided some $65,000 to the Hawaii Newspaper Agency Foundation for local charities.

And I'm sure going to miss the Hooters girls who were the game's cheerleaders.

Oh well. I still have my Hooters calendar.

Bill Kwon has been writing about
sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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