Wednesday, April 25, 2001


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High school
tournaments may not be
held due to strike

By Jason Kaneshiro
and Kalani Simpson

The statewide teachers strike that claimed three weeks of the public school calendar may also wipe out the highlight of the high school sports season.

Paul LeMahieu, state superintendent, said yesterday the public schools will not participate in any state tournaments, as educators try to make up for time lost during the strike by members of the Hawaii State Teachers' Association.

But a glimmer of hope remains as Board of Education member Winston Sakurai last night convinced LeMahieu to reconsider the order under the condition that no public school student-athletes would miss any class time as a result of participating in state tournaments.

"All parties involved have agreed to explore ways to conduct state tournaments without any public school students missing any class time," said Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. "It's not as easy as some may think, but it's certainly worth a shot. We want to exhaust every possibility before concluding we have to cancel any of the state tournaments."

Sakurai said he and LeMahieu and Amemiya will discuss the possibility of saving the tournaments today.

"The main point for all of us is that we want to make sure students have the most time in the classroom," Sakurai said. "But if there's a way of doing these tournaments without infringing on class time, he's more than willing to discuss those options."

But Amemiya said the tournaments would not be pushed back further.

"None of the five leagues are interested in further postponing the state tournaments beyond the Memorial Day weekend," Amemiya said.

LeMahieu cited the time required to travel and play in making his original statement yesterday.

"Those that participate (in state tournaments) very often take four or even six days of tourney time in order to do it, and that's a lot to give up at this point," he said.

LeMahieu said activities that require students to miss class time will be eliminated for the remainder of the school year. The leagues will attempt to complete their regular seasons under the condition that students not miss any instructional time.

"One of the casualties of this one, as I said, was lost time," LaMahieu said. "We're struggling to make sure that our academic mission gets fulfilled to the extent possible."

The announcement could mean the cancellation of high school state tournaments for both public and private schools.

"No one is interested in a state tournament without the public schools, including myself," said Amemiya, who runs the organization that oversees the state tournaments.

The tournaments in jeopardy are boys' and girls' golf, tennis, track and field, and baseball and girls' basketball, which involve some 1,500 student-athletes.

What would LeMahieu say to the disappointed players and fans? "Well, you know, unfortunately, what I have to say is going to be slightly unsatisfying to them," he said. "I know hearts are broken. That's true for kids and it's true for adults. I feel their pain of that."

"It's too bad," said Dwight Toyama, executive secretary of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, which oversees the athletics in Oahu's 24 public schools. "But like the governor said and (LeMahieu) said, that's one of the casualties that arises from something like this. We're just going to do the best that we can and try to get something for the kids, and salvage whatever we can."

The ruling covers the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, the Kauai Interscholastic Federation, the Maui Interscholastic League and the OIA.

The only league unaffected by the mandate is the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, comprised of Oahu's private schools.

But the ruling also deprives ILH athletes from competing for a state championship, as the league will not participate in a state tournament without the public schools.

"We're disappointed, obviously," said ILH executive secretary Clay Benham. "It ceases to be a state tournament without all the schools involved. And it's ridiculous to even think about just the ILH (competing).

"I feel sorry for the kids, not just our kids, but the public school kids."

Amemiya said the cancelation would also result in a potential loss of $50,000 to the HHSAA, based on projected gate receipts and corporate sponsorships.

"The bigger concern for everyone is that our student-athletes will not have the opportunity to compete in state tournaments," Amemiya said.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association's executive board met last Wednesday and agreed to move five of the six state tournaments back by one week. Consolation rounds were also eliminated to prevent student-athletes from having to play games during the day.

Toyama said those modifications were made under the assumption that students would be back in school Monday, but with the strike keeping schools closed until tomorrow, the clock simply ran out on the tournaments.

>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site
>> UHPA Web site

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