Yap: MIL and county ‘working real hard’ on getting fans back in stands

League also planning to have live streams of football games

Kamehameha Schools Maui students cheer for the Warriors during an MIL football game in October 2017. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER file photo

After a series of meetings on Thursday, Maui Interscholastic League president Jamie Yap emphasized that the MIL and county officials are working in concert to have spectators in the stands for the 2021 football season that is scheduled to start three weeks from today.

“I need your help to let everybody know that the county and MIL have been working together to get fans back in the stands,” Yap said. “There are a number of things that we have to discuss and work through, but everybody is advocating — including the county — for fans in the stands. Everybody wants fans in the stands.”

With new state Department of Health guidelines announced Monday, Yap said that the MIL and county officials are working to have fans safely in the stands with a live-streaming option also available.

“We have got to be smart about this and I don’t want to go and give you the proposal yet until we get everything written down and sit down with the county and go through it with them, but people need to know are working on it,” Yap said.

Yap added that he has heard rumors of no fans being allowed in the stands, at least to begin the season, but he reiterated that is not the thought process at this point.

“I don’t know where that ‘no fans in the stands’ (idea) came from, but that is not the discussion we are having,” Yap said. “We are looking forward to getting fans in the stands somehow as we start. It may increase as we figure this all out.”

When asked if the MIL is looking at live streaming with no fans in the stands, Yap said, “No, we are looking at both options. We are looking at streaming to coincide with fans in the stands.”

Yap, the principal at Maui High School, pointed to the agreement that was reached with county officials that allowed 1,300 people into War Memorial Stadium, a county facility, for the MHS graduation in May with a streaming option also available.

“Graduation was very successful, so I met with the (MIL athletic directors) and a company that services a bunch of schools across the United States to provide the streaming of games — we had that conversation this morning,” Yap said. “We went over the cost, what it would be like to do live streaming and what it will be for the spectators to purchase the app or the program and then they can watch the games on their phone.

“We are going to get through that, we think it’s a viable option, a good option moving forward, especially for the kupuna who cannot come to the game or for the little ones that may not be vaccinated to watch their siblings play in the game. We want to be able to have both fans in the stands and live streaming. We are working toward both of those solutions as we move forward toward our opening game.”

With the MIL being a mixed league with private and public schools, Yap said of the back-to-school guidelines provided by the DOH on Monday: “Our lead will come from the Department of Health. It’s not being driven by the (Department of Education) and I think the DOE has stepped out of maintaining what the COVID response will look like. So, they are leaving that up to the Department of Health, which opens our doors a little bit more to do things.

“We may not be able to satisfy everybody at first, but we think if we can get it started we can only make it better as we go.”

Yap added that the guidelines released Monday by the DOH are a step forward in the process of getting back to official high school sports in Maui County for the first time since the COVD-19 pandemic shut them down in March 2020.

“It is a step forward, it gives us direction and is coming from one place, so we’re not looking at multiple documents, we’re not having multiple discussions about ‘what about this and what about that?’ “ Yap said. “It streamlined the information that we need to follow … The DOE may be making a statement with regards to its activities later. That hasn’t come down yet, but we have to wait and see.

“If we do follow the Department of Health guidelines then we will be able to determine possibly how many people will be allowed in each venue. We’re working towards that and I don’t want to give people false hope, but I just want the public to know that we’re working hard at it. We want to keep everybody safe.”

Yap remains hopeful that fans will be in the stands for the scheduled MIL football opener on Aug. 20 when Maui High visits Lahainaluna.

“We’re trying real hard to make this happen and just trying to let the public know,” Yap said, adding that the public outcry has been heard by the MIL and county officials. “I need your help to say: ‘We’re working real hard to get to that place.’ … They’ve been heard and we’ve been working on it.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.


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