Interesting discussions I’ve had with a handful of DODDS Pacific cross-country coaches the past few days, discussing the possibility of attending next October’s Asia-Pacific Invitational meet on Guam and lobbying DODDS Pacific officials to consider partnering with the API and making that the true Far East meet.
It makes perfect sense, when you think about it.
First of all, Guam High already participates in it; why not others?
Secondly, while DODDS Pacific puts a cap of 16 schools on its two-day Far East meets every November, there is no limit on teams and runners who can enter the API. This year, a record 28 schools and some 350 runners participated in the event, which mirrors the Far East meet in that it consists of a 3.1-mile (5-kilometer) individual race on the first day, followed by a team relay the second day.
There are no base-access issues with the API. It’s held off base (this year it took place at John F. Kennedy High School’s Ramsey Field in Upper Tumon), for starters. As for where the athletes stay during the API, no worry about what I still consider the questionable rules regarding home-stays with host families; API organizers partner with hotels along Tumon Bay, which would more than satisfy DODDS and DOD safety and security requirements.
The event takes place on Friday and Saturday each year. Thus, students are out of school for just one day, instead of three for Far East. Teams fly to Guam for API on Thursday evening, run the 3.1-miler on Friday and the relay on Saturday, then return home Sunday. Far East is held on Monday and Tuesday. Teams fly on Sunday, and return home on Wednesday. One day vs. three? Easy call.
There is precedent for DODDS Pacific to call an event not hosted by a DODDS school a DODDS Far East meet. Go back to 1986, the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings year when budget cuts threatened Far East tournaments from February to the end of the school year. American School In Japan raised its hand to host the Far East wrestling meet, then-Kubasaki wrestling coach Jim Feller did the bracketing and DODDS Pacific has since called that the official 1986 Far East meet.
And the meet would be a true Far East. It includes schools and runners from ALL major Pacific districts: DODDS Pacific, Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools, Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference, Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam, Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools, Asia-Pacific Activities Conference and International Schools of Asia. Talk about an alphabet fest. But you see the point; it includes all dogs in every race.
Somehow, I don’t see DODDS Pacific biting off on such an idea, at least not yet. For Guam High, it’s easy to participate for the event is right there on island. Other schools might engage in car washes, bake sales and other forms of fund raising, then request permission from their respective districts to miss the permissible one day of school per season for non-DODDS events.
Instead of making excuses as to why it can’t be done, why can’t we look at reasons to see why it can?