Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Damien is right to forfeit football games

Damien Memorial High School is absolutely right to forfeit its football games this year with the powerhouse St. Louis School team, and its administration deserves this community's complete support.

In announcing his school's plan to forfeit the two games, Brother Gregory O'Donnell, the school president, cited safety concerns for Damien's undermanned and inexperienced team.

And no wonder. Damien lost 49-7 and 84-0 to St Louis last year, and athletic director Herb Lloyd says this year's team will be even less experienced.

Football blowouts of that order are not sport, and they are an untoward invitation to life-threatening injuries. It's understandable that some Damien players and parents have other feelings — after all, they have their pride. But they must understand that running a school is not a popularity contest.

More important, the Damien forfeitures are but a symptom of a disease. Damien isn't the only school that should be looking to duck hopelessly mismatched football games, and St. Louis isn't the only disproportionately powerful team.

The alignments of O'ahu's two high school athletic leagues are totally out of balance. Advertiser sports columnist Ferd Lewis has it exactly right that "any system that would drive an administration to consider forfeiting games is one that demands change."

It's clear that, as Lewis puts it, "several dominant programs are putting more distance between themselves and the rest of the pack."

We'd go a bit further and suggest that some schools, private and public alike, are putting more emphasis on football programs than their overall educational mandates warrant.

But if that's to be a fact of life in Hawai'i prep football, then let's do what the other states have done: create a statewide tiered classification system.

"Why not let the big boys, St. Louis, Kahuku, Wai'anae, Kamehameha, etc., slug it out," Lewis suggests. He calls for "mixing and matching Interscholastic League of Honolulu and O'ahu Interscholastic Association schools and classifying them based upon enrollments, turnout, history and preference (that) would allow teams to more fairly find their niches."

If you're too hidebound or too snooty to abide football leagues mixing public and private schools, then we'd suggest the only realistic alternative is to place some sort of cap on the resources and energy expended on football programs at the runaway powerhouse schools.

Either way, what's clear right now is that the present system is dysfunctional and must be changed.