Prep sports take big hit

February 10, 2009, 8:03 AM HST · Updated February 10, 8:03 AM
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The landscape of prep sports is being altered all over the country, as the continued economic downturn continues to force school districts and states to make some tough financial decisions.

We saw it in Hawaii last year, when an effort to cut junior varsity sports was barely averted.  But the times have gotten tougher since then.  With state departments forced to make major budget cuts, it’s inevitable that the funding for prep sports again becomes a political issue in the Aloha State just as it has across the nation.

In New York, the group that oversees public high school athletics recently approved shaved-down schedules next school year as a cost-cutting measure.  Baseball teams that play 24 games will be trimmed to 20; football teams will go from 19 games to nine or even eight.

A school district outside Cleveland has discussed dropping all sports.  Oklahoma has already shortened seasons to save money.  Mississippi has voted to cut schedules by 10 percent, except for the beloved moneymaker, football.

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Schools in Idaho are considering a reduction.  And while a season-reducing proposal was rejected in Maine last month, officials there set rules that will result in fewer teams qualifying for playoffs.

Closer to home, the Maui Interscholastic League faces some difficult and unique challenges.  Two MIL members (Molokai and Lanai) are located on separate islands, and another (Hana) is located in a remote location.

The general feeling – both in Hawaii and nationally — seems to be that it’s better to make across-the-board cuts than to eliminate entire sports.  Not an ideal solution, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.

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