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Pat Bigold

The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Still plenty of aloha
here for Pro Bowl

THE loud thud you heard Sunday was the Pro Bowl's overnight rating on ABC dropping 33 percent from last year to 5.8.

And remember, last year's rating was a new low for the event.

Meanwhile, the XFL debuted with a 12.9 rating, further validating P.T. Barnum's axiom that "there's a sucker born every minute."

Aloha Stadium was indeed filled again for the all-star bash, but then you have to remember this a city deprived of pro football 364 days a year.

But let's face it. Just as the NHL saw Sunday, people everywhere are growing tired of all-star exhibitions.

The NFL is the only major sports league to make its show a postscript to the season.

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel was pretty bored with our taxpayer-supported NFL extravaganza. In his Monday column, he called it a "worthless exhibition."

Just think. Orlando was once a bidder for the game.

"What would we miss without these intramurals?" asked Schmitz. "Nothing."

All I know is that with nationwide interest in the Pro Bowl plummeting, Hawaii is still the best life support for it.

Hard to imagine the show getting even a 5.8 share on Sunday if it was produced in a mainland setting.


Pittsburgh Steelers running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala wasn't a Pro Bowler, but he felt like one when he walked down the aisle in a Waianae church on Saturday with longtime sweetheart, Adriana Wilson.

The couple had a Waikiki reception with a lot of NFL well-wishers stopping by.

Pro Bowl linebacker Jason Gildon, linebacker Joey Porter and nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen of the Steelers, Detroit Lions Pro Bowl defensive tackle Luther Elliss, Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson and Chicago Bears center Olin Kreutz were all in the room.

"But it was a bittersweet day," said Fuamatu-Ma'afala's sister, Tanya.

The groom's older brother, Nick Ma'afala, a former University of Hawaii lineman, remained in a hospital bed at St. Francis Medical Center battling leukemia.

Nick began receiving bone marrow transplants last week from his sister, Leimomi, and will continue receiving them until Friday.

"He still looks big as ever, but he lost about 40 pounds," said Albert, another brother. "He's down to 280."


No matter how many games they lose on the road this season, Predrag Savovic, Mindaugus Burneika, Nerijus Puida, Troy Ostler, David Hilton and company will always be worth the price of admission.

This is your father's blue-collar, in-your-face, never-say-die basketball team. There are no NBA draft prospects on the roster, and getting into the postseason will be even harder than it was last year.

But you know that if these guys had a Joseph Forte or a Casey Jacobsen in the lineup, and if Ostler had a big center out there with him, the Rainbows would be threatening to overtake the WAC leaders.

After the whipping they gave the Bulldogs here, you can bet Fresno State fans will want to drop a ton of hurt on Hawaii at Selland Arena on Sunday.

I hope arena security is a lot better than it was when I was there last March 4.

Thin ropes held by arena ushers formed a narrow corridor that did not provide UH players adequate protection from the Bulldog fans after Fresno State's 79-69 victory. It contributed to several incidents, including former center Marquette Alexander's altercation with a fan.

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