Maui parents issue petition, plead to safely attend their kids’ sports
January 14, 2022, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated January 14, 1:40 PM
Maui parents are once again rallying against the latest mandate that restricts them from attending their kids’ games.
Maui Interscholastic League one week ago announced a ban on spectators. Its decision comes on the heels of MIL COVID-19 measures that since October only allowed select fans to attend games.
An online petition by Maui resident Jamie Fujioka was launched Wednesday, asking that the MIL “humbly” reconsider the decision to ban spectators from its high school sports.
The change.org petition, “Allow spectators to attend MIL High School Sports,” went live at 3 p.m. Wednesday and by Thursday night had generated more than 1,000 signatures. A previous petition seeking changes to student sport spectating rules had similar support.
“Watching from the stands with no contact, masking up, social distancing and putting a limit on the number of guests per player/student is a valid option rather than saying no spectators,” said Fujioka, a Baldwin High School parent.
Maui County’s administration, meanwhile, reiterated Thursday that the mayor has supported parents attending students’ games.
“Even though MIL uses county venues, neither the mayor nor the County of Maui has any authority over decisions made by MIL,” a Maui County spokesperson said via email. “The mayor has long supported the ability of parents to watch their student athletes participate in sports.”
Instead of just pointing fingers and complaining, Wailuku resident Jamie Akiona said parents want to collaborate with the MIL to find workable protocols.
After all, strict rules were in place recently and she didn’t hear of any cases tied to spectators at MIL sporting events.
“It should be working with the community, not just shutting it down,” she said Thursday. “People want to get together to support each other and not have to fight.”
Kawika Chang of Kahului said that all US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines can be met by Maui student sport attendees. Also, vaccination cards, social distancing and mask wearing can be done while supporting keiki at games.
“If the Center of Disease Control says we are safe and OK when we follow these guidelines who is making the decision for the MIL?” he asked in a letter to the MIL.
Chang said athletics were integral to his Maui County upbringing and he pleaded with MIL to allow current students to have the same opportunities. Banning spectators has a big impact on the community as a whole, he added.
“It is a difficult time for all of us but please do not take away these once in a lifetime experiences from our local youth athletes, coaches, schools, families and the community,” he wrote. “Please be fair to the high school athletes who will only have this chance once in their lifetime to compete in MIL events in front of family, friends, classmates and community.”
Fujioka on Thursday said she believes community action, such as the petition effort, can make a difference.
“The Maui community needs this and I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t support this (petition),” she said. “There’s a sense of urgency because our sports are currently running and seasons are short due to COVID. We could miss this in a blink of an eye.”
In October, Mayor Michael Victorino decided to bypass the governor and lift a ban on spectators for outdoor youth sport events that were not tied to MIL.
“I believe it is the right thing to do. No offense to the governor. I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” he said during a county news conference. “But when I read the petition – and I want to thank Aaron Ambricio and his group – because when I read the overall petition, I thought it made sense.”
Ambricio had started a change.org petition, “Let Parents Watch Their Kids Play Sports with Mask Wearing and Social Distancing Outdoors,” which sought to allow spectators at student sporting events in Maui County. That petition generated more than 2,000 signatures.
“The City and County says they don’t want us gathering, yet people are allowed to sit in a bar indoors and watch a sports game on tv, people are allowed to sit on a beach, people are allowed to fly on a plane, go to the park and exercise and tourist are allowed watch a luau,” his petition said.
MIL did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.