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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

After Deadline
Pigskin Picks makes safety change

By John Simonds
Advertiser Reader Representative

Pigskin Picks, an indispensable part of The Advertiser to thousands of readers, has made some adjustments, much as a winning football team might to overcome early setbacks in a tough season.

How important is this weekly predict-the-winners contest to readers? On the morning of Sept. 11, The Advertiser's sports department was surprised to receive phone calls asking what impact the still unfolding world events would have on Pigskin Picks. With the postponement of the Sept. 14-16 games, Week Two was canceled, but action and Pigskin Picking resumed the following weekend.

Last month, as postal security concerns rose, attention focused on the many envelopes volunteers might be handling at Hula Bowl headquarters on Maui. On Oct. 21, The Advertiser announced that Pigskin Picks would no longer accept entries mailed in envelopes and that the newspaper had redesigned forms listing the prep, college and pro football games to fit 4- by 6-inch postcards.

Though a first-week dip in entries reflected some initial uncertainty, the number of forms — mailed and hand-delivered — has rallied and last week totaled more than 10,000. The response, comparable to past seasons, has been encouraging to Lenny and Marcia Klompus, who run the Hula Bowl from its Maui Mall headquarters.

Their bowl organizations have been processing Pigskin Picks entries, on and off, for a half-dozen seasons. The Maui site is where entrants mail their postcard ballots. It is also where hand-deposited ballots from elsewhere, including O'ahu, are delivered. As many as eight volunteers examine the ballots, working late weekend nights to determine winners.

The Advertiser has been conducting football prediction contests since at least September 1983. Pigskin Picks became the official name of the contest in October 1987. Selecting winners from the thousands of entries has been done by different groups and with varied procedures over the years.

Hula Bowl people reading and marking the entry ballots on Maui say they are impressed with the creativity of entrants in attaching the forms to postcards. Some scribbled personal notes on the cards. Only about 20 entries in envelopes were received last week, and Hula Bowl people mailed the envelopes back to senders with instructions to resubmit so they could still make the deadline.

Pigskin Pickers are urged to use transparent tape to fasten entries to postcards. Covering entries with tape will assure their bonding to the cards and prevent ink from running if cards get wet. For ease of reading, workers note, the entry side should be face up. For more, call (808) 871-4141 on Maui.

Ups and downs of headlines

"Study finds big drop in domestic violence," said a subhead over a Los Angeles Times article on Page A3. "Women's shelters note surge in calls," said a headline on a locally written Advertiser story on B3 the same day, Oct. 29. A caller said the stories seemed to contradict each other. Could both be true? Yes.

The reports on which the stories were based used separate data from different time frames. One documented improved national conditions based on federal information comparing recent decades, and the other focused on Hawai'i since Sept. 11.

It might have helped readers to place the two stories on the same page, or link them with a "refer line" so readers would know that domestic violence has grown more complex than either story indicated by itself. The data in each article seem to complement rather than clash when sharing a context that acknowledges their differences. The national story was handled by the news copy desk. The Hawai'i story went through the city desk, then the copy desk.