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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 9, 2002

Security for Hawai'i events remains tight

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer

Even though security measures remain in effect for the better, sports in Hawai'i didn't take long to return to normalcy following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Theresa Pukahi of Kahuku, holding granddaughter Naveah, had her backpack checked by Lei Palakiko before a football game at Aloha Stadium last year.

Advertiser library photo • Sept. 21, 2001

After a brief shutdown that postponed games, scrambled athletic schedules, restricted NCAA volleyball tournament travel, and prompted the cancellation of a lucrative postseason high school championship, Hawai'i sports wasted little time getting back into action.

"For the most part, everything we're doing this fall is right in line to what we would normally do at this time of the year," said University of Hawai'i athletic director Herman Frazier. "For instance, our cross country team, our football team, and our women's volleyball team are all in competition and going by the schedules that they have put in place."

Frazier, who became UH athletic director on Aug. 1, said his department hasn't had any lingering problems or scheduling cancellations resulting from Sept. 11, adding, "I have had no one tell me that they weren't coming because of Sept. 11."

Frazier also said that Sept. 11 attacks wouldn't scare Hawai'i teams that traditionally spend a lot of time traveling on airplanes.

"When you're in our business, the only frequency of means of being able to get back and forth to the Mainland is air travel," Frazier said. "I don't think fear comes to mind. We just get up and compete."

In the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, many sports were affected, including ocean sports.

Back to the beach

In Hawai'i, where an estimated 250,000 residents participate in ocean sports, the aftershocks emptied some of Hawai'i's popular swimming and surf spots, including Waikiki Beach.

"I think, like most people around the country, everyone was in a state of suspended animation for a period here," said Jim Howe, chief of operations for Honolulu's Ocean Safety Division, which oversees Honolulu's beaches. "Those events made us all stop in our tracks. We sort of suspended our normal activities. I think for many people their focus and attention were shifted elsewhere in consideration, respect and concern for what happened."

Less than a year after the attacks, Hawai'i's beachgoers have returned and local athletic departments have resumed playing games that were put on hold.

"Personally, I felt like a lot of people, we needed to get back playing," said Hawai'i women's volleyball coach Dave Shoji, whose team had two matches canceled that week against Loyola Marymount and Brigham Young University. "The country as well as ourselves needed to get back to normal living and not let the terrorists just disrupt our lives. I thought it was important to get back."

Added Howe: "Life is turning back to normal. We're back to the normal rhythms of our life here and our normal activities. It's a healing sign to me. It shows that wounds are healing."

Changing times

Some changes resulting from Sept. 11 have lasted until this day, including increased security checks at Aloha Stadium and other athletic venues, and a no-envelope policy for The Advertiser's Pigskin Picks contest that was implemented from Anthrax concerns. The changes were important safeguards, officials said.

"People have to feel that they're coming into a safe venue," said Eugene Tokuhama, Aloha Stadium events manager. "That's what we needed to create. They need to feel that they still can go out, enjoy themselves and still feel safe."

The added security checks at Aloha Stadium were announced Sept. 17 for high school football games and later included all public events at the stadium. A majority of the fans have accepted the added security following Sept. 11, Tokuhama said.

"I think they've gotten used to it," Tokuhama said. "I don't know if they understand it fully. We have a few complaints. But again, it's trying to get the word out and convincing them that this is probably the best procedure for their safety."

In college soccer, the Rainbow Wahine spent four extra days in Spokane, Wash., after they were stranded during an airline shutdown. The team was scheduled to return home on Sept. 11 from a road trip, but returned to Hawai'i on Sept. 15. Also, the team dropped its Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Soccer Festival, scheduled for Sept. 13-16, because two teams, UC-Riverside and Cornell, canceled trips to Hawai'i.

Travel restrictions

In college volleyball, security concerns prompted the NCAA to draft a new tournament policy that would minimize travel, risk and inconvenience to teams.

A top team, such as Hawai'i, would normally host a first-round playoff match, but instead the Rainbow Wahine were forced to play Washington State in Pullman, Wash. The change hurt Hawai'i, which could have earned thousands of dollars in gate revenue if it hosted the match, said UH spokesman Markus Owens.

"We were the ones that had to travel, rather than having other teams travel to us," Shoji said. "I don't anticipate that being in effect this year."

The NCAA has since relaxed its travel policy on playoff tournaments which will give Hawai'i a better chance of hosting regionals.

Championship losses

O'ahu Interscholastic Association schools Kailua and Kahuku were named co-champions in football, the first time in OIA history that the league intentionally declared co-champions in football. The last time the league had co-champions was in 1947 when Waialua and Kahuku played to a scoreless tie in the postseason.

The decision to forgo the OIA championship game cost the league $30,000 to $40,000 in gate revenue, said OIA executive secretary Dwight Toyama. He said the league felt it was better to eliminate the championship game, rather than eliminate a weekend of 10 games that would have affected 20 teams.

"It wasn't fair to shorten the regular season for 20 other schools," Toyama said. "Our biggest money maker was the OIA Championship. It was a big financial impact. But we felt that was the way to go."

Toyama said the coaches, athletic directors and schools understood the scheduling decision that resulted from the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Everyone cooperated," Toyama said. "What (Sept. 11) did was it gave everyone a common bond. It made everyone closer. All of a sudden, you realize, in my opinion, a football game is not the most important thing in the world."