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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

End of an Era: Balloon Brigade

I know this is a football blog, but I had to post about this basketball subject, which has been a part of my UH fan-life for the past 12 years or so.

I didn't start the "balloon brigade" as Jim Leahey termed it, but I helped to keep it alive. Fellow UH bandmembers started it back in the early days of the SEA (Special Events Arena) before it was named the SSC (Stan Sheriff Center). Even KKEA's Kevin Hashiro tried to start something. After they graduated, I took on the task with the help of some friends.

It hit its peak during the AC Carter/Alika Smith Dynamic Duo days as shown above.

After I graduated, I wondered how I would continue to make the balloons for every game. Luckily that next season, the UH Basketball booster club came up to me and offered to help. It took off from there. By myself, I could only blow up 70-80 balloons. With their help (and their air compressor) we blew 6-700 a game.

Hawaii has never been a basketball state, except for the Fab 5 days, which I wasn't around for. The closest we got was with AC. The balloons helped the average sit-on-his-hands-fan to feel like he was a part of something bigger. That he/she mattered and could influence the game. It also distracted the kids so that parents could watch the games.

UNFORTUNATELY, this year, MIDSEASON, the WAC has deemed that the balloons are noisemakers (which is a NCAA violation). After all these years! They informed UH that if the balloons were used in this fashion, that refs would first issue a warning and then a technical foul against the fans. UH thought in the best interests of the team, that they would not risk losing points and possessions and not allow them to be used. I am partially to blame, as I used to squeak them myself. The WAC had no issue with them being waved only, but how do you control 6-700 fans, again, some being kids?

I already wrote to WAC Commissioner, Karl Benson, and he responded. He said that the conference is trying to enforce a sportsmanship policy this year. The WAC has issued warnings to other teams fans whose unruly behavior includes yelling vulgar sayings after opposing teams made free throws. One of those teams then made a complaint about our balloons for some reason and the WAC had to respond. And here we are now. If you were at the Fresno State game this past weekend, you could noticeably tell the difference. Jim and Artie made a comment about it during the tv telecast as well and didn't agree with the WAC.

Here's some other coverage by the media:

Stephen Tsai's blog

Jeff Portnoy's blog

What to do?

Ok, I'll step off my pedestal and let Tombo get back to football.


  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 10:09:00 AM HST, Blogger Tombo Ahi said…

    that was a great post. i too was guilty of making the balloons squeak when i was at games, but what a lame ban. it's sad that the WAC had to bend to some whiner(s). it's not bad sportsmanship to have some frickin spirit! come on! i hope the balloon brigade will be back someday soon.

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 10:54:00 AM HST, Anonymous Kahala Del Rey said…

    I agree, hey I love all sports so ain't no big thing, basketball is my 2nd love so no matters, I like bowling the least but all Olympics, horseracing, extreme fighting......ta da, ta da are all cool so no matter what you put on your blog is fine with me. I check this everyday since I found out about it (didn't know it was installed for me.....too busy watching espn or going to the other sports websites for info. This is just right. Bless you all who do this, hey Tombo? You deserve a break today! Luv ya all. Just a fan.

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 11:02:00 AM HST, Anonymous wildwahine said…

    Thanks for the post Chawancut, hey, wen ya gonna get your own blog? Nah, no like ya work 2 hard. By the way thanks 4 your post. I do like your contributions and forgive me for the misconception that you had your own blog space. I just see ya name everywhere as all. Nice 2 c ya on da board li dat.........ww

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 2:40:00 PM HST, Anonymous Kaimuki boy said…

    Loved the balloons. It worked for us since we don't have crazy UH students to put up a distraction. If noise is the problem, how about getting card board strips, ti leaves, green hand towels or strips of cloth, or a single foam finger. I hope we adjust and still give the Bows home court advantage.

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 5:53:00 PM HST, Blogger Eric said…

    I can't say I entirely know what I'm talking about, but that just sounds......stupid. What's the problem with having those in the stadium?

    Oh well. I just wanted to stop by and say I gave you guys a mention in the college football blogger awards as the best non-BCS blog. Keep up the good work!

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 7:47:00 PM HST, Blogger Tombo Ahi said…

    thanks eric!

  • At Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 9:39:00 PM HST, Blogger jase0517 said…

    It just felt strange without our balloons. I like the idea of towels, only it's hard to give those out every game. It would be nice to get one when you purchase your Mānoa Maniacs season tickets.


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