Up to Chun to keep it growing
By Ferd Lewis
The two toughest jobs in sports hereabouts belong to the guy who followed Herman Frazier as the University of Hawai'i athletic director and the one who succeeds Keith Amemiya as executive director of the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association.
For vastly different reasons, of course.
Jim Donovan has gotten to pick up after Frazier's five years at UH, which means dodging the land mines left behind and searching the sofa cushions for small change to help make a dent in the mounting budget deficit.
And, then, there is Christopher Chun, the intrepid sole who steps in for Amemiya.
Essentially, all Amemiya's successor — we won't say "replacement" because that may be next to an impossibility — has to do is follow Santa Claus.
For Amemiya was the one who came up with the concept — and relentlessly sold it around town and beyond — of "Save Our Sports," the $1.44 million and climbing grassroots fundraiser to put back into public high school sports what the shortfall in state money was taking away.
It has basically saved much of the winter and all the spring sports season for 45 public high schools and their thousands of athletes, rallying in the process individuals, concerned businesses and community groups.
That, in and of itself, would be quite a career accomplishment. But Amemiya did more. He got the public and private schools together on the long-resisted concept of classification and got them to see the wisdom of launching Division I and II state tournaments, no small achievement given the historic animus and mistrust that has existed between the two entities.
We wish Chun, a Honolulu attorney and 'Iolani School graduate, well in one of the next high wire acts that demands attention: tweaking a classification system so that it more truly reflects small school and large school constituencies. The kind, for example, that would keep a Farrington or McKinley from competing in the small school division in basketball. Or, 'Iolani from competing for the small school state football title in the same year it has knocked off Kamehameha and Punahou.
Through his vision and hard work Amemiya opened doors and expanded opportunities in high school sports. That Chun is willing to roll up his sleeves and tackle that considerable legacy says a lot.