News item: Hawaii announces it will become the first state in the nation to make surfing a sanctioned high-school sport, available to students in public schools throughout the islands, placing wave riding on par with mainstream sports such as football, baseball and basketball.
Reaction: Had the high school I went to offered surfing during the 70s, when I spent many days of each semester choosing surfing in favor of school, I might have attended more classes, knowing I'd be surfing anyway.
Hawaii is to be commended. It's the birthplace of modern surfing and the legendary Duke Kahanamoku is the one of the sport's founding fathers. Most kids growing up on the islands are passionate about surfing and as any serious surfer knows, if there's a new swell on the way, attending school becomes secondary.
Maybe this will keep more kids in school.
Kauai's Bethany Hamilton, whose inspirational life story was portrayed in the recent hit movie "Soul Surfer," said via email:
"I believe bringing surfing into the school system will encourage the kids in their academics and keep them in school; and I think it will be a fun healthy addition to their daily life, which a lot of kids need these days."
Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark in 2003 but continues to surf at a high level, is a courageous and determined young woman, idolized by kids and admired by adults.
Another inspirational figure in Hawaii is Oahu's Carissa Moore, who during the summer clinched the 2011 women's world surfing title. She agreed that surfing, like other sports, can help a person overcome adversity.
"You fall down over and over again, but you keep picking yourself back up until you ride one all the way to the beach," she said. "I know that's kind of cheesy, but I think surfing is definitely a really good outlet for a lot of teens and young kids. It's a way to channel a lot of energy into something positive."
Surfing will be included in curriculums, for boys and girls, as early as 2013. The Duke would be proud.
-- Pete Thomas
Photo shows the late Andy Irons, a three-time world champion from Kauai, surfing at Pipeline. Credit: Vince Cavataio