A member of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff wore a 9/11 commemorative shirt during Sunday's opener against Houston.

Sports helped
nation recover

Athletics in Hawaii
back to normal ... almost

By Cindy Luis

Things will never be the same.

The sentiment is echoed from the workplace to the ball field. The one-year anniversary of 9/11 reminds a nation of its innocence lost.

We Remember

Athletics were put on the back burner as the U.S. collectively grieved, came to grips with the situation, then grabbed on to one another for support.

With the airports closed, Hawaii residents never felt so isolated from the mainland. The athletic calendar was put on hold, from the college level to the prep ranks to youth leagues.

Several opportunities to compete were forever lost. But compared to the losses in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, athletics were relegated to the "It's just a game" column.

Sports also served as a healing process, a catharsis, a place for fans to come together, share tears, moments of silence and singing the national anthem. A year later, things in Hawaii are almost back to normal.

But they will never be the same.

"VICTIMS OF THE nation's fear."

That's how Dave Shoji explains the way the NCAA women's volleyball national championship tournament was handled last December. Some three months after Sept. 11, the NCAA -- which pays for travel and carries the insurance -- decided to minimize travel for its first major championship following the terrorist attacks.

Shoji and his Wahine team, then ranked 11th, had to travel to Pullman, Wash., for a first-round match. Hawaii, which has led the nation in attendance since 1994, had hosted NCAA tournament matches 14 of the previous 16 seasons.

"With so many teams involved (64), I think we were the only sport where they felt it necessary to limit travel," said Shoji. "The only part that changed was we had to travel instead of three teams traveling here.

"We lost two matches that would have brought in revenue, but everyone got hurt."

UH likely lost about $20,000 by not hosting the first and second rounds. (The NCAA keeps most of the ticket revenue). But the loss was more than doubled when two regular-season matches were canceled -- Loyola Marymount on Sept. 14 and Brigham Young on Sept. 15; the estimated $40,000 included refunds for season-ticket holders and tickets that would have been purchased prior to the matches.

It also cost UH about $5,000 when the Wahine soccer team had to spend an extra four days on the mainland after being stranded in Spokane, Wash., following a tournament. The Wahine returned home only to find out that its Outrigger Hotels Festival had been canceled when two of the visiting teams decided not to come to Honolulu.

There also were nonfinancial issues that affected UH, including recruits who either were unable to travel to Hawaii at their scheduled times or canceled their campus visits out of fear.

"I know that our water polo team was particularly affected," said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, UH assistant athletic director. "Parents didn't want their children traveling at that time."

With the nation's airports closed for two days after the attacks, the Warrior football team was unable to fly out for its Sept. 15 conference game at Nevada. The game was rescheduled for a week later, with the Warriors flying via charter.

It was not so simple for island schools with smaller budgets to put things back together. The Chaminade men's water polo team had half of its season -- seven games -- canceled when the school decided not to make a weeklong road trip to the mainland following the attacks.

BYU-Hawaii had two teams on the mainland the week of Sept. 11. Its men's water polo team played as scheduled at Claremont, Calif., winning the match, but the women's volleyball team fell to Montana State-Billings.

High school sports were put on a weeklong hiatus as the five leagues rescheduled contests in football, bowling, water polo, cross country and volleyball. The only team that lost an opportunity to compete was the girls volleyball team from Iolani, which canceled its trip to California for the David Mohs Memorial Tournament.

While its 20 canceled volleyball matches were rescheduled, the Oahu Interscholastic Association had to figure out how to fit nine football games back in. Rather than shorten the regular season, it was decided to forego a championship game and name Kailua and Kahuku co-champs.

The decision likely cost the OIA between $30,000 and $40,000 in gate receipts.

"For the most part, we're back to normal," said Keith Amemiya, the executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. "I don't know if we'll ever get back to the pre-9/11 days in terms of event security. From what I know, the leagues have handled the post-9/11 procedures very well and I'm not aware of any major complaints from the venues. The fans have been understanding for the most part."

However, increased security measures have irked some fans. While the rest of the stadiums across the country have relaxed, the same rules used at Aloha Stadium last year for football games are still in effect.

The proximity to Pearl Harbor Naval Base has been used as one reason for tighter security and the ban on anything that could be used as a weapon or projectile. However, numerous complaints were received last week at various media outlets when the ESPN broadcast of the Hawaii-Brigham Young football game showed fans with umbrellas during the downpour at Edwards Stadium.

Umbrellas, which used to be allowed, are among the items banned from Aloha Stadium.

We Remember

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