Safe Sports 808: Resolution to bring sports back to Oahu marches forward

Chad Owens is putting his support behind Safe Sports 808, a movement to bring youth and high school sports back after a long dormancy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Jason Chai Wilson.

They called Chad Owens a superhero of sorts back in the day.

The former Hawaii and pro football player was “Mighty Mouse” back then as he dominated competition on the turf at Aloha Stadium. Now, he’s an activist on behalf of high school student-athletes. Owens announced the establishment of “Safe Sports 808” on Tuesday afternoon. This comes just days after the former Hawaii standout gave his full support to son Chad Owens Jr., a Moanalua football player who began a petition to spark discussion of bringing high school sports back from cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Myself, along with many others of the Safe Sports 808 working group are dedicated to helping our future leaders of Hawaii. Our mission is this: to maximize safety, and improve mental and physical health while minimizing the need for quarantining, increasing classroom performance and opening extracurricular activities for academic success,” Owens said with a group of high school student-athletes at his side. “We are excited to announce that we have the support of the Honolulu City Council. We will be working diligently to create recommendations that will be given to the mayor by Monday regarding the safe return of sport.”

The grass-roots work of father and son has marched forward, arm in arm with Councilmember Andria Tupola. Resolution 21-18 is on the board following Tupola’s community Zoom forum that included all four mayors, Owens and a number of athletic directors.

“The resolution that we took up was for group organized sports,” Tupola said. “Currently, outdoor group sports are only allowed in Tier 4. We have to get below 20 cases (per day). For Oahu, it does not appear we will ever be in that position. Why can’t we amend it? Why can’t we allow for Tier 2, Tier 3 to allow for sports with no spectators, testing every two weeks?”

The City Council supports the resolution, Tupola said.

“All the City Council members are in support. We amended it to add that we would be talking about all sports, including indoor sports. Currently, DOE schools cannot use city parks for P.E., recess, fire drills even if they are following the CDC guidelines,” she added.

Tupola said the working group will have its plan submitted to Mayor Rick Blangiardi by Monday.

“I want our thoughts and our work to be in front of his team so that they can draw upon the efforts that the coaches and athletic directors are going to put in a document of sports safety and the safe opening of sports. The coolest part is the DOE has been drawing up its own guidelines, which will be very broad. What we’ll be coming up with is to have is more specific for each sport,” Tupola said. “The recommendation is that just as much effort as we gave for tourism into our children. We want them to be the leaders in tomorrow, to invest in them just as much as we put into any other issue in the community.”

Jason Chai Wilson is one of the organizers who help spark momentum for the Safe Sports 808 movement. Wilson, 40, a husband and father of four children. He played basketball and volleyball, and later coached the two sports, along with football and baseball at his alma mater, Kohala.

“I would’ve probably not have been as motivated to reach my potential if I didn’t have sports,” he said. “We had a minimum grade-point average of 2.0, but my volleyball coach Jonathan Marquez said we have to make 3.0. It wasn’t a rule. It was a challenge to do better. Without sports, I probably wouldn’t have done that.”

Wilson’s “crowd” back then was more into surfing and cutting class.

“So I couldn’t cut class because I had an obligation to my team. Then I became a leader, and some that were like me went into sports and dedicated themselves to the team instead,” said Wilson, who graduated in 1998.

The Safe Sports 808 group will examine protocol and procedures that have been used in Utah and Washington, said Wilson, who still resides on Hawaii Island. If progress can be made on Oahu, he believes, the same will happen across the islands.

“It’s hard to change the DOE and their thoughts, especially who’s liable for what, but we’re hoping we can convince the mayors to open up parks for all sports, including high schools. Our vision is just getting people involved. We have a small team, and we need more people,” he said.

“I think about these kids who are juniors and seniors who don’t have an opportunity and nobody’s trying to give it to them. I said, I’m done talking. I told my wife and my son, Hezekiah, if you believe in something so much, you act out on it. So I made all the calls I could make. Now, the iron is super hot. Why not try?”


  1. Hopeful January 12, 2021 11:20 pm

    Thank you!!!!!

  2. Leihua Levasa January 13, 2021 1:01 am

    Thank you so much for all that you are doing for our kids. I have a daughter that’s a senior at Kapolei Highschool and she and many other players is missing the opportunity to play the sport that they love and have that chance to enjoy a senior night if possible. It saddens us as parents to watch our children especially our seniors not being able to participate in sports, prom, and other senior activities. So I appreciate everything that you are trying to do for our keiki’s.

  3. ??? January 13, 2021 8:40 am

    Mahalo to Andria, Chad & Jason for pushing to help the kids out. This is taking a Mental/psychological toll on all the kids as well as their parents and now you’re taking away their Proms & Senior night outings too?
    Once in a lifetime moments!!!!
    Mayor & Governor, get off your Okole & do something.

  4. ILH January 13, 2021 9:13 am

    WInter and fall sports canceled, so only chance is spring. Club sports might get going at parks etc like on other islands, Dont see DOE allowing spring sports. Probably will be fall before DOE sports return.

  5. Bryan January 13, 2021 4:32 pm

    Thank you for pushing for this! How can I be a part of it? We need to move forward, NOW. Thank you again!

  6. Health Matters January 14, 2021 10:59 am

    Disclaimer: Sports and all extracurricular activities are important.

    While sports are important, there are other ways to remain active. Many people are blaming the governor and mayor. Well, I also blame parents who aren’t creative enough to help their children come up with ideas to stay active and get out of the house. There is jogging, hiking, swimming, etc. My buddy’s kid got a part time job. My nephew is putting more time into his studies and improved his gpa. He also has been researching colleges and now made his own digital catalog of schools he wants to go to. My children who live in the mainland and are in college have been volunteering at the local hospitals to provide assistance. Being mentally and psychologically sound can be accomplished in a variety of ways. To attribute mental health “solely” to sports is unhealthy and shows how irresponsible some parents can be.

  7. Kanoe January 14, 2021 11:12 am

    Thank you so much for fighting for these kids

  8. Oahu January 14, 2021 11:42 pm

    Mahalo for helping our islands kids! If they can develop plans for tourists to come in then they make a plan for the sons and daughters of Hawai’i l.
    Have parents pay for extra testing, etc. I’m sure most parents would be willing to do whatever it takes. Especially the senior parents.

  9. DADandCOACH January 15, 2021 8:12 am

    MAHALO for providing this platform to address this. Strongly believe in this provided there are safe precautions in place. As a parent and a High School coach as well being a high school student athlete in the past, you see what sports, clubs extra curricular activities do, the benefits, relationships and so forth. All for extra testing, or no spectators. All student athletes dream of playing way beyond youth/high school. Give them a chance to play at home even if no spectators. You hear/see a lot of Hawaii athletes leaving to play in the mainland to better the chances of playing at the next level.

  10. Paul Honda January 15, 2021 9:31 am

    This is the link to register for the second forum, which will be at 5 p.m. today (Friday).

  11. Matilda January 15, 2021 11:32 am

    we are in a pandemic. Theres no other words to explain it. This virus is very unpredictable. Being on the wrong side of the virus can happen to anybody, no matter if you healthy or not. Preventing is alot safer than lets try it and see what happens. We all want sports, but for the safety of the kids and families lets get through these next months with vaccines and worry about next season. Taking a risk and if things doesnt go well, then what? Might be digging ourselves in a deeper hole when we are trying to climb out of it.

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