Last Friday, the OIA released the final version of the 2017 football schedule. The latest schedule featured some changes from a leaked preliminary draft that was first reported on by the Star-Advertiser earlier this month. While there were some adjustments made from that version, even OIA officials are admitting their most recent schedule isn't perfect.
Next season the OIA will feature weekday football games. It's move the league had to make after facing a shortage of officials. After last season at least 12 referees either retired, moved, or quit. With the number of refs they have left OIA football adviser, Harold Tanaka, says they were forced to separate games over the course of three or four days a week, in order to have enough officials for each game.
"At our initial meeting they asked, 'Can it be done?'," said Tanaka. "I said, 'Yea it can be done. We can do it. But, it's going to be very drastic. It's going to be hard.' Guys are not used to playing on Wednesday and Thursday nights."
The shortage of referees, according to Oahu Football Official Association President, Cal Evans, is due to both the time demands and pay for the job. Evans said last year, prior to the ref shortage, officials oftentimes worked both junior varsity and varsity games. That usually meant an additional eight hours of work at night after finishing up at their day jobs.
With more than a dozen officials retiring after last year, the ability to hire new referees is also a challenge, according to Evans.
"Young officials look at the requirements that are made on officials invested in training, in rule study, in preparing to do a good job on the field," said Evans. "It's a significant amount of time that they can't justify for the pay that they're receiving."
While the new schedule format address the officiating issues, it does raise other concerns. With games running late into the night at times last season, the move has raised questions about how it will impact student-athletes on school nights. For smaller teams, short turnarounds - which can cause injuries - are also a major concern.
But they're problems the OIA feels they have addressed the best that they can.
"Well, we're going to try to start our games at five o'clock now on weeknights," said Tanaka. "Try to get done at an earlier time. We looked at the turnaround time from week to week, and we might have one or two games with a five-day turnaround. But, most of them are six-day turnarounds and even more."
The most recent schedule guarantees every team at the Division I and II levels has at least one mid-week game, except Moanalua - who doesn't have any. No team has more than three weekday games.
Tanaka denies any preferential treatment in determining dates or number weekday games played by each team. He says they were scheduled based on location availability, working around volleyball schedules, and homecoming dates.
Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112