Kaiser football coach Arnold Martinez does not like a schedule change that is likely to happen in the Oahu Interscholastic Association this fall.
Martinez also does not like the OIA’s current two-tier alignment.
He spoke out about both subjects in an email to Hawaii Prep World on Thursday. He was responding to an email sent to OIA coaches asking for input on the likely schedule change next fall in which – due to a shortage of qualified officials – games will be held Wednesdays through Saturdays instead of the usual Fridays and Saturdays.
Martinez asked for us to use his comments in full if we use them, so here goes:
“I always start with asking this question, does the change benefit the majority of everyone involved or just a small group?” he said. “That said, this might help with the referees, but the overall impact on schools and program personnel would be major. School sites have to staff the game event (football event management is a beast; it takes a ton of great people who mostly volunteer their time to the game-day duties, so to do it one day a week at a school is tremendously difficult and now to ask folks to do it Wednesday through Saturday? And those that are paid to manage events, where will the funding come from with the increased days and hours worked? Now consider the parents. Many parents will have to change their work schedules and adjust the amount of time they commit to supporting their kids and helping their school’s program. What about the player impact? If everyone is all in about safety and improving football safety, what is the impact there? Do players have enough time to prepare for the physical demands of the game? Right now with a game on a Friday, prep time for players begins Saturday after the game with game review and treatment, Sundays off (I like to give our players Sunday off to go to church, rest up, spend time with family, catch up on homework, have a balanced life) then Monday through Thursday is game planning and practice to gear up. If games are midweek, the weekly schedule will have to change and some schools will be practicing on Saturdays and Sundays to safely prepare for the midweek game.”
Martinez continued: “This will impact participation numbers also. I am sure student attendance will be affected in a negative way. Other sports that play midweek are not collision sports. They do not play in body armor. When games are played on Friday and Saturday, there are non-school days that players can rest and players do not have to be in a classroom the very next day for 7 hours after a physically grueling game. When an NFL team plays on a Sunday, then the next Thursday (four days between), all players and coaches and teams hate it for a reason. And the NFL gives that team a bye and something like 11 days before their next game after a Thursday game. They must have a reason behind that long break.”
Martinez went on to say, “Now what about the coaches? Most coaches make great sacrifices with regard to their full-time employment. They adjust their scheduling to coach. Coaching high school football is volunteer work (stipends that add up to five cents an hour do not count as payment). We coach because we love the kids and want to see them grow and be successful in life and football. Coaches are already putting in 60 hours a week in football to prepare their players to be safe and compete. This will definitely add to the amount of prep time for coaching staffs who will have to choose between full-time work, family or seven-day a week football prep for their players. That is going to be a tough one. Now I do understand there are not enough referees, and that is very complicated. We have some very good, awesome referees (not enough of them) and it is a very hard job to do, but is this the best solution? I don’t have the answer to that right now. I will just once again ask the question I started with: Does the change benefit the majority of everyone involved or just a small group?”
Martinez went on to give his thoughts on the divisional structure of OIA football:
“And on a side note, all parents should ask that same question regarding our current OIA division alignment structure. Does it benefit all the teams involved or just some? Why can’t a decision that benefits the majority of teams be made? I wonder what the real answer to that question is? I heard it has to do with scheduling games. But surely scheduling games is not more important than player safety and competitive balance, is it? I would say the current league structure does not benefit all the teams involved and it should be fixed for safety reasons and competitive balance and to benefit the majority of teams, not the few. But, I digress. There are many things that can be done to help high school football in the state of Hawaii prosper in a healthy way. I pray that we get there.”
Among the OIA’s 22 varsity football teams, 14 play in Division I and eight play in Division II. In the last handful of seasons, the number of mismatches have grown, leading some to believe that three divisions of teams would be helpful to create balance.
Earlier this year, OIA football coordinator Harold Tanaka said the league would possibly be working on a three-division plan for the 2018 season, but not 2017.
For the 2016 state championship, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (of which the OIA is an affiliate) started a three-division state tournament.
OIA executive director Ray Fujino said the league will soon be figuring out how the two-division league will fit its teams into the second year of the three-division state tournament this year. Last year, the “fitting in” was partially based on competition (the OIA quarterfinal winners went up to the new top-tier Open Division in states and the OIA D-I quarterfinal losers went into D-I for states). This year, the HHSAA is likely to enact a proposal that all leagues must classify their teams before the season starts, according to multiple sources.
Another quasi-HHSAA proposal before the 2016 season called for the creation of an OIA/ILH football alliance that would create three divisions for the regular season, but was shot down.
As for the Wednesday through Saturday schedule, Fujino said on Thursday that the chances of implementing it for this fall are higher than 90 percent.
“There’s a shortage of refs in both the OIA and the ILH,” Fujino said. “At our games, you’ll see that many of them are doubling up, doing both the JV and the varsity game. By limiting the number of games each night, the pool of available refs will be bigger. With games at 10 sites each week, it would work out to two or sometimes three games each night.”
Fujino said the OIA is in the process of making sure that the “different variables,” such as homecoming games, fit into the schedule.
“We also don’t want to create situations where a team would have a short week to prepare (for instance, a game on Saturday followed by a game on Wednesday),” he added.