Most days it is tough to find a beach not crowded
with eager board-riders waiting to catch some waves. Despite
the popularity of surfing in Hawai‘i, the state has not
allowed the sport to be sanctioned as a competitive high school
The major reason: liability. The Department of Education will
not classify surfing as a sport because there are too many
risks involved, the biggest being the dangers of the ocean,
hazardous wave and wind conditions, the risk of shark attacks
and injury due to striking a reef or rocks.
Sure there is a risk of injury and even death when going into
the ocean, and it is understandable why the D.O.E. does not
want to face any lawsuits caused by letting students surf in
However, football is an extremely dangerous sport, yet it is
the number one sport in Hawai‘i high schools.
The OIA and other high school sports organizations require
athletes to sign waivers that both prove them fit to participate
to prevent any liability if an athlete is hurt while participating
in a league event. Why should it be any different for surfing?
It should be alright to allow students to surf and to represent
their school as long as they and their parents sign a waiver
to guarantee the state immunity from any type of lawsuit.
If made an official sport, surfing would give many students
the chance not only to enjoy Hawai‘i’s beautiful
natural environment, but also to learn the lessons of teamwork,
and responsibility that are taught in competitive sports. There
are many students who would rather go surfing than go to school
when the waves are big, so why not encourage them to surf while
also focusing on their school work?
Those opposed to organized surfing argue that the cost of equipment
is too large for the state’s athletic budget. While surf
boards are not cheap, what about uniforms for football players
and the cost of facility maintenance for other sports? The
students themselves could work out some way to pay for their
contests or with the assistance of surfer organizations. Local
businesses and surf board makers could also sponsor individual
surfers or high school teams.
If Hawai‘i is to avoid an ever-increasing drug and crime
problem amongst teenagers then educators, lawmakers and parents
should give surfing a chance. Organized surfing would give
students a place to go after school where they can have some
exercise and stay out of danger. Wouldn’t our tax dollar
be better spent on surf equipment rather than on rehabilitating
those who have gotten into trouble because they had no motivation