WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) The Hawaii Board of Education has unanimously approved surfing as an official high school sport in the Islands.
Board members meeting on Maui voted 9-0 recently after about an hour of testimony mostly in favor of sanctioning the sport.
Despite its history as the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii had never allowed recognized interscholastic high school surfing teams, citing concerns over safety, cost and liability.
The attorney general's office recommended against surfing as an official sport in 2002. Opponents argued that surfing involves an unpredictable environment, including waves, sharks and collisions with other surfers.
''It's time for Hawaii to have surfing in the schools,'' said Kim Ball, a scholastic surfing advocate who organizes surf contests on Maui.
Longtime Maui surfer Snake Ah Hee agreed.
''I want my 16-year-old son to have the chance to surf at home for his high school,'' he said.
Hawaii public school students now compete in surf meets as members of clubs, but they can't use their schools' names. The new policy would allow such clubs to be official school teams.
The decision whether to have a surfing team would be left to individual schools.
The new policy directs the Department of Education to adopt regulations to implement surfing as a high school sport.
Those rules would need to address liability, logistics, safety, equipment and funding. Interscholastic leagues would not be required to offer competitive surfing.
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