High school football is big in Hawaii and it impacts thousands -- the families of players, fans, cheerleaders and band members.
And many families will be alarmed when they see that many football games are being scheduled on school nights, with away teams often looking at getting home later than midnight.
First glance reactions at the schedule have not been kind, most notably from the Star-Advertiser's Dave Reardon, who torched the OIA in a column Wednesday. He said the schedule is preposterous in its unfairness.
For its part, OIA officials said they're trying to find a system that's equitable.
"It's been tough because we've had to go down to Wednesday nights and Thursday nights, but we're trying to make it work the best for our high schools," said Farrington Athletic Director Harold Tanaka.
Tanaka is the football advisor for the OIA and one of the people with the tough task of putting together the league's football schedule in the midst of a referee shortage, the reason why games are being spread out from Wednesday to Saturday.
"We're just trying to be as diplomatic as we can with the schedule," he said. "We're trying to avoid the short turnaround times, like playing on a Saturday and having to come back on a Wednesday. We tried to avoid that as much as possible."
But as it stands right now, Waialua High School will play four Thursday night games, including two far away from home on school nights.
Five teams will have to play three games on five days rest or less. Kaiser will play three games alone on just four days rest, including a 12-day stretch with three games against Kahuku, Moanalua and Waianae.
Tanaka said the schedule that came out over the weekend is not the final one, and at least one of Kaiser's weekday games will be moved to the weekend, but that doesn't change the fact that Mililani plays all of its games on Friday or Saturday, always with at least six days off.
"It was just the way it worked out with their opponents," Tanaka said. "Their opponents had week day games and the way it shuffled out, they got the lucky draw."
Part of the problem is the OIA has to wait for each school to pick its homecoming date.
"That throws a wrinkle in the schedule because the schools pick their own homecoming dates and now we have to work forward and back from that," said Tanaka. "That's the tricky part."
As diplomatic as the league wants to be in scheduling, they still need money. That is why top-tier programs like Mililani and Kahuku won't feel the brunt of short weeks and school night games like Kaiser, Castle, Radford and a few others will.
"It's not a perfect schedule, but we looked at Friday night's for our big games that are going to draw a lot of people. We looked at some of the weeknights where we feel that there's not going to be a real big gate, so it won't impact too much as far as finances," Tanaka said.
The final schedule is expected to be released next week with the OIA proceeding as if they will be short on referees. If the league can get enough before the summer is over, the schedule could change again. If not, they are hopeful to return to the normal schedule of Friday and Saturday games next season.
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