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The OIA sacrificed its own teams to get its way

July 15, 2017 - 12:05am

A lot of people are still crying about the state high school football tournament.

We can call it tears for tiers.

While I agree things definitely could’ve worked out better, they also might have been even worse if not for the final compromise hammered out by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s football committee.

Because of the selfishness, petty politics and spite of one league, it looked for a while like the three-tier state tournament might be sabotaged.

The committee was left with a horrible situation caused by the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s displeasure with last year’s format that included two Interscholastic League of Honolulu teams in a six-team top-tier classification.

So in the end the OIA got what it wanted; now just one of the ILH’s big three (Kamehameha, Punahou and Saint Louis) will play in the postseason. All it cost the public school league was state tournament participation for six of its schools.

Last year 20 schools competed in the state tournament and now it’s down to 12. The OIA had 10 teams in the three tiers last year. Now it’s down to four, thanks to its own power play.

No Oahu public school will compete in the middle tier. How that makes sense is anyone’s guess; it looks like a weird face-saving gesture since the OIA said it was going to boycott a division.

OK, you win. Too bad so many of your students lose out on participating in states. Not just football players — cheer squads, band members and others miss out on the experience, too.

Also in regard to that middle division: Since there are no OIA schools and Iolani chose to play in the bottom rung, it is three neighbor islands champions and Damien or St. Francis of the ILH. Again, someone will have to explain to me the logic.

At first glance, the bottom rung looks OK, as it is comprised entirely of Division II champions. But the fact that Iolani is there is absurd.

Over the years, I’ve staunchly supported the Raiders coach and administration choosing to play in the lower of a two-division setup, whether it be in the state tournament or the ILH. Regardless of how many championships they won at that level they had a right to remain due to the small size of most of the Iolani players. They certainly belonged in Division II more than other schools we’ve seen there with large enrollments, large players and/or large rosters, but who just were not good at football.

The addition of a third tier changes that. Iolani — as much or maybe more than any other football program in the state — belongs in the middle classification of the state tournament.

That middle tier is now known as Division I.

What’s in a name? Shouldn’t matter at all, but it does. And the way it stands now, it is confusing.

The OIA did something right a few decades ago when it had three divisions and called them Red, White and Blue. Regardless of your level of patriotism, this was good because it took away the stigma that goes with numeric labels like Division I, II and III, or 3A, 2A, and 1A — or anything else that smacks of ranking.

The HHSAA should consider going with Red, White and Blue rather than Division I-Open, Division I and Division II since those current names don’t really make sense anyway.

And the sooner Iolani goes into the White the better.

The same holds true for the OIA following the desire of its football coaches (as well as all believers in common sense and fair competition) who would like to see the public school league in three divisions again. The coaches voted for that, but it was nixed by athletic directors who apparently are not interested in averting blowouts and forfeits.

This same organization that automatically assumes unfair treatment in any issue involving the ILH sure doesn’t mind bullying some of its own members. That was made clear by the ridiculous football schedule the OIA tried to force on its own league.

And now the OIA has imposed its will on the state tournament. Congratulations, mission accomplished. Now a few hundred fewer Oahu public school student-athletes will get to compete. A small price to pay to keep those private school kids out, too, right?

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