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Dave Reardon

Evening QB

By Dave Reardon

Monday, June 12, 2000

Bitterness arises
over Sweet 16

AS an all-around athlete at Kamehameha, quarterback at the University of Hawaii, and defensive back in the NFL, Blane Gaison participated in many late-game rallies.

On Saturday, the setting wasn't a playing field, but a conference room. Nevertheless, Gaison showed he hasn't lost his touch.

The proposal to increase state high school basketball tournaments from 12- to 16-team events appeared dead at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association annual meetings over the weekend on Maui.

But Gaison, now an athletic director at Kamehameha, made an impassioned speech that helped swing enough support to pass the proposal in a 32-28 vote on Saturday.

That doesn't mean it's going to become reality, though.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association's executive board, with one principal from each of the state's five leagues voting, must approve of all changes coming out of the HIADA conference. Each principal's vote is multiplied by the number of schools in the league he represents.

Normally, it's a rubber stamp. But not here, because the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation are all for it, the Oahu Interscholastic Association is dead-set against it, the Maui Interscholastic League is split, and the Kauai Interscholastic Federation missed Saturday's voting.

Anything can happen Friday.

What on the surface seems like an innocent enough idea of allowing more teams to participate in state tournaments is an emotional issue that has rubbed emotions raw among the state's high school sports leadership.

In 16-team tournaments, the OIA gets six berths in each tournament, compared to three each for all other leagues, except for Kauai, which would get one.

OIA Executive Secretary Dwight Toyama has said that expanding the tournaments weakens the level of play too much.

OTHERS against it have said that the OIA travel costs would increase, because teams would have to travel to other islands to play in regionals a week before a "final four."

If you ask student-athletes, don't you figure they'd rather have a chance to participate in a state tournament, even if they're not likely to win it?

And, to be honest, the level of play at last month's state baseball tournament wasn't fabulous. But nobody cared --it was exciting and dramatic for the crowds, not to mention the teams involved.

As for increased travel costs, neighbor island teams have always had to deal with similar situations -- some even within their leagues. Call Ken Nakayama at Molokai or Larry Manliguis at Hilo for tips.

The loud whisper -- and it comes not only from the ILH -- is that the public-school OIA just doesn't want additional private-school ILH teams in state tournaments, under any conditions.

Many say the OIA has built up resentment over the years because some ILH schools blatantly recruit athletes from OIA schools. Also, some in the OIA perceive some of the ILH leadership as arrogant.

To its credit, the ILH created a task force last school year to address some of the OIA's concerns (as well as its own worries about competitive balance in football), especially regarding recruiting.

Hawaii's high school sports leaders need to realize they're all on the same team. And a team goal should be increasing participation for student-athletes whenever feasible.

Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii from 1977 to 1998,
moved to the the Gainesville Sun, then returned to
the Star-Bulletin in Jan. 2000.

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