Birds force Hawaiian island into all day football games again

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Yet again, Hawaiian high schools will have to put their football players at risk for the sake of saving a rare species of bird.

Newells Shearwater Seabird
Newells Shearwater Seabird

For the second straight year, the Kauai Interscholastic Federation has ruled that teams on the island would be allowed to play night games only until Sept. 15. After that point, young Newell's shearwater seabirds, which hatch around that time, travel by moonlight in a migration to the ocean.

In the past, when Hawaiian schools would play under floodlights, young birds often confused the stadium lights with the natural light of the moon. That led to a number of young birds being grounded, with the grounded birds often unable to take flight again after they reached ground, eventually becoming food for area cats and other wildlife.

While Kauai schools continue to try and implement measures that would allow Friday night football to resume, the island community has been unable to appease concerns raised by the U.S. Justice Department, which first issued a warning about the threat Kauai's lighting structures posed to the birds in 2005.

Specially created floodlights were scheduled to be installed in time for the 2011 season, but those either have not been finished or have yet to be cleared as a safe solution to the island's threat to the Newell's shearwater.

In the meantime, all Kauai schools will be forced to play the majority of their 2011 seasons on Saturday afternoons, with players facing significant risk from playing in the island's afternoon heat and humidity.

"It's hot. And you get all tired. You cannot focus," former Kauai High running back and linebacker Travis Koga told the AP last October, when he was still a senior member of the squad. "I think it's best -- Friday night lights. Not Saturday day football. It's Friday night lights."

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