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Surfing: a great intramural sport for Hawai'i high schools

by Kyle Galdeira, staff writer

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 sport.

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, including 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 a potentially hazardous environment.

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 and also 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, perseverance 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 boards, through 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 fun, get 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 to succeed?



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