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Hang 10 for a letter -- Hawaii likely to OK surfing as high school sport

By Greg Morrison, CNN
updated 12:04 AM EDT, Tue October 4, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A proposal would sanction surfing as a high school sport in Hawaii
  • Gov. Neil Abercrombie supports the move
  • "The sport is in our culture and in our life"

(CNN) -- A Hawaiian tradition is about to become recognized as a legitimate high school sport.

Surfing, which is synonymous with the island culture, is expected to get formal approval Tuesday as a sanctioned sport when the state board of education meets.

The proposal, if approved, would sanction surfing as a sport available in all 46 high schools in the island state.

"High schools have had surf clubs for years with informal competitions," explained Alex de Silva, a spokesman for the State Board and Department of Education.

The idea was originally proposed in 2004 but didn't go far "because we are in a tight budget situation like nearly every other school system," said de Silva. But now the plan is to seek outside corporate support for the program.

State officials estimate it will cost $150,000 a year to run a statewide interscholastic surfing program. De Silva said there has been a groundswell of support "for our unique cultural institution."

If approved, high school surfing competition would begin in the spring of 2013 with individual championships for men and women as well as a school championship.

The idea of surfing as an official sport has the enthusiastic support of Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

"Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing. From Duke Kahanamoku to the thousands of residents and visitors who surf both recreationally and competitively, the sport is rooted in our culture and way of life," said Abercrombie.

"Bringing surfing to our students is another step in our collective goal to transform public education and provide our children with rich and diverse educational opportunities."

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