THE Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) and its 74-member high schools throughout the state have taken measures to ensure that our female high school student-athletes are provided equal opportunities in interscholastic athletics.
HHSAA is committed
to girls sports
Indeed, compared to our mainland counterparts, many of the measures put forth by HHSAA and its member schools put us at the national forefront of gender equity.
For example this past February, for the second consecutive year, the HHSAA held separate girls' and boys' state wrestling tournaments. This past May, we held our inaugural girls' state golf tournament and girls' state basketball tournament, the latter at the UH Stan Sheriff Center, viewed as the premier indoor sports venue in the state.
In fact, the number of female high school student-athletes in Hawaii is nearly identical (representing 49 percent) to the number of male participants in high school athletics.
Despite these accomplishments, there is a small but vocal minority critical of the fact that, in Hawaii, girls' basketball is played "out of season" in the spring (February-May), while boys' basketball is played "in season" during the winter (December-February).
This group of self-proclaimed gender equity advocates is demanding that both girls' and boys' basketball seasons be played in Hawaii during the winter season to mirror the women's and men's college basketball seasons.
Yet there are compelling reasons to keep local high school basketball seasons as they are:
Such a change would create a practice and game-scheduling nightmare for the high schools, which already have tremendous difficulty finding such venues for their teams.One of the vocal minority's primary reasons for wanting a switch in the girls' basketball season is so female athletes will purportedly receive a significant increase in college basketball scholarship opportunities due to increased exposure playing in the "traditional" winter season.
Such a change would adversely affect other sports, as there are currently an equal number of athletic activities in each of the three Hawaii high school sports seasons -- fall, winter and spring.
This argument fails, though, because several college women's basketball coaches have confirmed that they are already aware of female high school basketball players with scholarship potential either via pre-senior year summer camps or from their play as juniors.
Also, mainland college coaches are unlikely to make the long, time-consuming and expensive recruiting trip to Hawaii to scout high school players because they are already busy with coaching and traveling with their own teams during the winter season.
ALTHOUGH the HHSAA and its member schools are in full compliance with Title IX, achieving such compliance is not as easy and simple as the vocal minority suggests. UH has been struggling with Title IX compliance for years. Even national powerhouses like UCLA and USC, with their multimillion-dollar athletic budgets and foundations, are currently struggling with compliance.
Fortunately, and notwithstanding the foregoing, several national, well-respected Title IX experts (all female) agree with us that, based on their understanding of the HHSAA's role in Hawaii high school athletics, there is no basis on which to sue the HHSAA on Title IX grounds.
As the new millennium approaches, the HHSAA is excited about the tremendous opportunity to take Hawaii high school sports to greater heights for all of our student-athletes, both male and female.
We invite the vocal minority to join the rest of Hawaii in supporting and working with us, rather than against us.
Keith Amemiya is executive director of the
Hawaii High School Athletic Association.