Current Playoff System Works Fine

Chris Chun. Nathalie Walker photo

Chris Chun. Nathalie Walker photo

When he prepped at Iolani School, Chris Chun overcame more than his share of painful issues that ultimately shortened his athletic career. A dislocated knee ended his football-playing days early in his junior year. Then a collapsed lung ended his baseball dream.

“I wasn’t that good anyway,” he says humbly when asked what positions he played. And then he quipps, “I played all over, and I didn’t play well all over.”

Two decades later, Chun is in his third year as executive director of Hawaii High School Athletic Association, and he just oversaw the HHSAA state football championships this past weekend. His experience has gone much more smoothly and successfully than his own high school career.

During the championship week, we discussed some of the creative suggestion that have been put forward about the future of the state football tournament. Specifically suggested was the idea of merging all the top football teams in the public and private schools to create one super conference.

The proposal could mean teams like the state championship game combatants Punahou and Mililani would be in the same regular season league alongside other traditional powerhouses Kahuku, Saint Louis, Farrington, Kamehameha, Waianae, Iolani and other major ILH and OIA schools. Lower tiers that combined schools from all the leagues would be organized for smaller schools. The goal is to create more balanced regular-season competition because the current system often has lopsided contests.

Chun is not a fan of the idea.

“What good would the ILH merging with the OIA do in helping the MIL?” he says. “That would just make things tougher from a state perspective. One year, you might have all teams (in the championship game) from the ILH, and in another year, all teams from the OIA. I don’t see how that helps anything, (but) ultimately that would be up to the athletic directors from all the leagues to make that kind of decision.”

Chun also is not a big fan of adjusting the current numerical formula for the amount of teams selected from each conference. Some prep fans have been frustrated by the fact that a team ranked very high in state polls, often the second- place team in the ILH, does not get a chance to qualify for the state tournament because that league does not field enough teams in the sport.

“I think the current way we do with proportionality between the leagues works,” he says. “That gives everyone the same chance. If you had an at-large bid or a second ILH team, I think it would create an even deeper public/private split. What we’re doing now is equitable and fair. I don’t see us deviating from the formula.”

Chun also supports the way leagues decide DI and DII classification. Some fans have questioned in past years as to why schools like Iolani were DII, or why this year Kaiser was classified as DII. “That’s up to the leagues to decide,” he says.

Chun sees fairness in the current system, even if it isn’t perfect.

“I think Hawaii is a very unique place,” he says. “We’re trying to create a situation where every league has a fair opportunity. What we have is the way it should be.”