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In the last few days I have received emails from some of my Punahou friends that can be best described as “gloaty.” They informed me of an article in Sports Illustrated. You know, the magazine whose most popular issue has nothing to do with sports, although that will change as soon as partial nudity becomes an Olympic event. The article announced that Punahou was ranked SI’s top high school athletics program in the nation for 2008. According to the article, 38,000 schools were considered and the process “emphasized all-around excellence during the last 10 years and included state titles won and college athletes produced.” Now I realize this is an amazing achievement but as an Iolani grad, this feels like the sound of Lee Press On Nails across a chalkboard.
To update those of you who haven’t read 90 percent of my columns, Iolani and Punahou are both private schools on Oahu and are rivals, or at least were when I was at Iolani. Of course, it wasn’t your USC/Notre Dame type sports rivalry. It was more like a rivalry between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Nationals, and the rest of the world is the Red Sox.
I tell you all this to let you know there may be some bias and/or bitterness to follow. That is the difference between a columnist and a journalist. A journalist reports, a columnist whines (of course, journalists are exempt from actual reporting if they work for Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, or a radio station. But I digress).
Austin Murphy (if that is his real name) is the reporter who did the story crowning Punahou king. From this point forward he shall be referred to as “Doctor Evil.” In trying to figure out the reason for he chose Punahou, I’ve come up with three possible answers:
1) The possible future President graduated from Punahou and a certain writer wants to be protected from tax audits.
2) In winter, you like the idea of SI paying for your Hawaiian trip. So get drunk on Mai Tai’s, pick a school you can pronounce, and write your story on a poolside-folding chair.
3) Hypnosis. Someone has programmed him to believe this story. As a matter of fact, every time he hears the word “Punahou” he barks like a terrier.
Iolani is mentioned once in the article when the author is describing a picture of future NFL running back Mosi Tatupu about to “annihilate a would-be tackler from Iolani School.” The picture shows no such “annihilation.” How does the reporter know what happened? Maybe the Raider defender made an amazing tackle for a loss. Of course, the actual chances of that are about the same as my ticket matching all five numbers plus the Powerball. I hope that defender is okay.
The article mentions Punahou’s dominance in water polo: “The boys’ team has won 32 of the last 35 league titles and there has been at least one former Punahou player on every US men’s Olympic water polo team since 1988.” Yes, that is impressive, but it’s water polo.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with water polo (i.e. those of you who are not Caucasian. Yes, I said it), it’s like hockey if there were no sticks and instead of ice there was molasses. In this sport the players all swim to one side of the pool and the player with the ball holds it above his head and waves it back and forth about 100 to 300 times. Then the defender swims over and tries to drown the player with the ball. Then the referee blows the whistle; the offensive player comes up for air, and passes to a teammate. Then the whole “waving, drowning, and whistling” process starts over again. After each player has had a chance to do this the ball is thrown to the goalie and everyone swims to the other side of the pool. Occasionally a bored goalie will be blowing bubbles in the water and the ball will go into the goal. At this point the referee yells “Goal!” and parents look up from their knitting or sudoku and ask questions like “Was that our team?” or “Was that their team?” or “Does anyone have a Red Bull?”
It’s true, Punahou has dominated water polo, but much in the same way that Zamfir is the master of the pan flute. Is anyone really trying to challenge it?
The article name drops like a gaffer at a keg party. It mentions Punahou alumni like Buster Crabbe (1932 Olympian, Tarzan), Chris Duplanty (3 times on Olympic Water Polo team), Mosi Tatupu (Iolani student annihilator), Barak Obama (Secret Service-protected pick-up hoops player), Norm Chow (legendary football offensive coordinator), and Michelle Wie (seriously, do I really need to tell you who she is?).
(Iolani alumni, please skip this next paragraph.) In all honesty, it is a great article and Punahou should be proud. Actually, Hawaii should be proud. Athletics have made great strides in Hawaii and this recognition can only help to float all boats. The article is about more than titles and wins and shows the importance of character in the program there. My sincerest congrats.
I don’t mean to move the spotlight but Iolani was recently ranked #1 in alumni who tell jokes for money in Northwest bars. This was announced in “Wasted Potential Monthly,” a magazine whose swimsuit issue is, to say the least, edgy.
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