Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Friday, April 27, 2001

‘For the kids’ doesn’t
mean all of the kids

Bob Hogue, who wants to watch his daughter play in the state tournament, and Chico Furtado, coach of odds-on girls basketball favorite Kalaheo, were among those arguing long and loud that this year's high school state tournaments must go on.

They were doing what they believe is right, and good for them. They are to be commended for it.

And everyone who brokered the new plan to piece the remainder of this high school season together deserves a pat on the back for their quick thinking under fire.

But Hogue's, Furtado's and others' argument on the all-importance of the state tournaments would have carried more weight with me if it came from someone with less of a vested interest.

I would like to hear the same fervor that the show must go on from a coach whose team won't be hugging any trophies any time soon.

The original plan from state superintendent Paul LeMahieu (a plan that lasted about 11 seconds) was devised not only so that students would miss a minimum of school time, but so they might also have a maximum of regular season sports time.

"That's where everybody plays," LeMahieu said then.

Play to the very end. Another week of games for every team in the public schools. Keep the games, lose the tournaments.

But that was before the outcry. The phone calls. The radio shows. The meetings. The pleas to keep the tournaments "for the kids."

LeMahieu and company backpedaled faster than Rich Miano.

So, now, the logic goes, keep the tournaments, lose that week.

No big deal for those who hope to win a state crown.

What about everyone else?

Where's the parent of a child on a losing team that stands to lose a week or so of games so that Punahou and Kalaheo and the rest can have their tournament?

This season is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all state contenders, no doubt. This has been a dream four years in the making. It would be a shame to shatter it. The thought of it all slipping away must be devastating.

Furtado has talked about how important it was for his star, Brandy Richardson.

But Richardson has an athletic scholarship waiting for her at UC Santa Barbara. It's a good bet she has at least four more years of basketball.

For every Brandy there are perhaps four more girls whose last basketball is now. They won't be playing college basketball. They won't be going to the state tournament. But for another week, at least, they could have been basketball players. Should they have to trade their last week of high school sports "for the kids"?

Anytime you talk to coaches and players about the state tournament, they say they're not thinking about it. The most important thing is One Game At A Time, they say.

One Game At A Time. One Game At A Time.

We're committing the greatest sin in coachspeak. We're casting aside a potential week of One Game At a Times.

The problem with a championship tournament, the saying goes, is that only one team gets a happy ending. Everyone else goes home heartbroken and early. In this strike-shortened season, too, too early.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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