Stadium won't lift ban to allow 'thunder sticks'
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i athletic department has thrown in the towel in its attempt to distribute noisemakers similar to ThunderStix for the Nov. 30 football game against Alabama.
After failing to convince Aloha Stadium officials to lift their ban on artificial noisemakers, UH instead will distribute white "rally towels" to fans for the nationally televised game. UH officials announced their decision during a staff meeting yesterday morning.
"It's an Aloha Stadium rule, and they decided not to allow them," said UH marketing director Mark Livingston, who favored distributing 8,000 pairs of inflatable cylindrical tubes similar to ThunderStix. Originating in Asia, ThunderStix, which create a loud thumping sound when banged together, were popularized by Anaheim Angel fans during the recent baseball postseason.
The NCAA has specific rules against the use of artificial noisemakers for arena events. For outdoor events, such as football, stadium officials set the house rules.
Aloha Stadium manager Eddie Hayashi did not return messages left at his office yesterday and last week.
But UH officials said they were told the ThunderStix-like tubes pose a safety risk.
Other Western Athletic Conference schools apparently feel differently. Fresno State sells the tubes at its home football games, and Boise State fans bring cowbells and whistles to their games at Bronco Stadium.
Scoreboard watching: The Warriors, who have a bye this week before playing Rice Nov. 16, have a strong interest in the Owls' game at Boise State Saturday.
Boise State is 5-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, with three league games remaining. UH, which already lost to Boise State, is 6-1, and closes its WAC schedule against Rice.
"The perfect scenario is for Rice to beat Boise, and then for us to beat Rice," UH quarterback Tim Chang said.
Rice is 3-0 against UH since 1999, June Jones' first season as the Warriors' head coach. Chang has an even more bitter history. As a freshman in 2000, he was intercepted five times against Rice. In last year's game against the Owls, he suffered torn ligaments in his right wrist and missed the final nine games of the season.
"I've had bad fortune against Rice," Chang said. "Maybe they put the voodoo curse on me."
Health report: Jones said the bye week should prove beneficial for injured defensive ends Travis Laboy and Houston Ala, and right slotback Nate Ilaoa. Laboy and Ala are recovering from ankle injuries, and Ilaoa aggravated a subluxed right shoulder against San Jose State last week.
If the Warriors were to play this week, Jones said, Laboy and Ala "would have to play with soreness, that's for dang sure, and maybe not make it through the game."
Jones said Ilaoa would not be able to play this week, but "he has a chance, maybe, in two weeks."
Wide receiver Mark Tate, who underwent surgery in August to repair torn ligaments in his left knee, is projected to return for the Cincinnati game Nov. 23. Tate, a third-year sophomore, suffered the injury from a moped accident.
"If I'm able to come back, I'll come back for the last three games," said Tate, who already has burned a redshirt year.
At the time of the accident, Tate weighed 190 pounds 40 pounds less than his weight during the 2001 season. He said he now weighs 213.
He said his injured knee is at 75 percent.
"It's stronger than it's ever been, because I'm doing more work with leg weights," Tate said.
Tate said this was his first serious injury. "I've never sat out more than one or two days, but nothing serious since Pop Warner," he said.