What needs to be done to bring back youth sports on Oahu?


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Options are running out for Hawaii prep athletes as most high school athletic leagues are opting to cancel fall and winter sports. Most sports teams on Oahu have even been barred from practicing for months now.

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Former University of Hawaii at Manoa standout and professional football player Chad Owens said, he is a father to a high school senior and more options need to be on the table when it comes to youth sports.

“We’ve got a lot of talent here and there’s a lot of futures at stake right now.”

Chad Owens, Retired Professional Football Player

“If (the counties) make guidelines, or (the Honolulu City Council comes) up with guidelines, or a task force can come up with guidelines and show support for  bringing sports back into the community, I think that will open the eyes of  the Department of Education. That will get them to start something on campuses sooner,” said Chris Chun, Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who said he is a big supporter of youth sports, originally wanted to be more aggressive with altering the Tier system. He said, because of the recent COVID-19 surge he will need to monitor cases for the next few days before making any decisions.

“As it stands right now, I’m not so sure as we live with this disease for some unknown time and there’s the vaccinations, how quickly can we get to participation and what circumstances are allowable.”

Rick Blangiardi, Honolulu Mayor

Other experts in the field offered some options for continuing sports in a safe way.

One option is a “Return to Play” plan, which documents kids from when they get on campus to when they leave. This is being used for Iolani School’s football team.

“It’s not easy for a teenager to follow rules, as all of us know, especially wearing a mask and shield and being socially distanced,” said Wendell Look, Iolani School Football Coach. “But again they bought in and they appreciate being out there.”

Former Kahuku High School Athletic Director Wendy Anae now works in Utah. She said, they have had a successful sports season by limiting spectators and using three positive cases as a metric for when teams need to quarantine. Utah has also seen far more COVID cases than Hawaii, however, with more than 3,700 cases reported on Friday, Jan. 8.

“With the new (COVID-19) vaccine, there’s a great possibility we’ll have a season later on some time during this year,” said Gerald Oda, Little League baseball manager.

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