Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
Opinion: Expect No Hawaii High School Football This Fall
The figurative crystal ball in front of me is saying there will not be high school football in the fall in Hawaii. This is not a new thought. The same opinion was voiced here May 27. I tempered that opinion July 17, when the DOE issued a press release saying fall sports practice would begin Aug. 17. There seemed to be some light in the sky for football- and other fall sports-loving fans. Not anymore, A one-day record of 109 new COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday. That was followed by a new record of 124 on Thursday, along with reports of more than 600 active cases. This is a safety issue that, to me, cannot be controlled by attempted social distancing on the football field. I expect that any day, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association will announce that football and possibly other sports in Hawaii will not be held in the fall, while giving hope that they may happen in the winter or spring.
Hawaii High
An OC-16 screenshot of Saint Louis receiver Koali Nishigaya from a game last year. Already delayed, football for the fall is in serious jeopardy with the recent uptick of COVID-19 cases.

The HHSAA and its member leagues have been working diligently, meeting nearly weekly to have a plan in place for whenever it’s safe to return to the field. They need a timeline to go by, of course, but this uptick in coronavirus cases is sure to change the current (and always tentative) start date

And by no means has the HHSAA and the leagues been dragging their feet. They don’t want to make rash decisions. They meet next week, and it would be a surprise to hear that fall sports, especially football, is still on the table. It would not be a surprise, however, if they come out of that meeting with no definitive answer on if football will be moved to the winter or spring.

At least three states have already moved football to the spring — Illinois, Washington and California. Could Hawaii be next? Ron Lee of Saint Louis School has been a proponent of such a move for the last few months.But moving football to spring would present many challenges, according to a MaxPreps article, including logistics, field availabilty, support staff availabilty, and a shrinkage in roster size for teams and referee crews.

Four people close to the ongoing fall sports discussion (two Hawaii high school coaches and two members of a Hawaii high school’s athletic staff) gave their thoughts recently. We decided to not use their names due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The athletic staffers were quite sure that football was not going to happen in the fall, especially since there is close contact in all aspects of the game and there’s a high probability of an infected player or coach passing it on to others.”How can it happen?” one asked rhetorically. “With so many coronavirus cases, it’s not safe.”

The two coaches were holding out hope that the health crisis would pass, allowing for some sort of fall season. Both coaches were also confident that football would be held at some point before the end of the school year in May.”I’m sure we’re going to have a season,” one coach said. “I just don’t know when. It doesn’t look good for the projection of starting in August unless we completely go flat from now until the next few weeks. Look at baseball, you’ve got 14 guys on a professional team (Miami Marlins) testing positive. If that happened here, they’d shut us down.”
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“I’m praying and hoping for some kind of season, fall, winter or spring,” the other coach said. “I’m hoping for something good to happen and that’s what coaches around the state are all feeling. People need to help the cause and not be a cause (of spreading COVID-19). We have to be patient and wait, let it take its course and then get back on the field. We don’t want to be in a bigger mess than we already are in.”

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