Friday Night Lights: Our View


Staff photo 2017.

Ka Leo Staff, Editorial

Friday Night Lights III provided a rare opportunity for Kalani’s special education students. Many Hawaii kids who have disabilities or who are at risk never get the chance to play on an OIA or ILH sports team. Playing in a competitive athletic environment helps these kids feel included and challenged.

The University of Hawaii College of Education paired up with four Hawaii public high schools, Kalani, Mckinley, Moanalua, and Roosevelt, to present students with disabilities a chance to experience what it’s like to participate in a high adrenaline team sport. It was a wonderful opportunity for the student-athletes to have fun and represent Kalani High School with pride.

On April 20, Kalani beat Moanalua at Roosevelt High School and fell to Roosevelt at their second game on April 27. On Friday night at 6:30 p.m. the Kalani gym was packed with cheering fans, family members, supporters, and players. The energy in the room was palpable.

Some of the athletes who play on our team have difficulties with attention, focus and impulse control, and some have trouble following directions. This can make athletics particularly challenging. And the kids have proven that they are more than capable of meeting those challenges head-on.

Research shows the many benefits of team sports. Athletic programs help to keep kids physically fit, improve their mental and emotional health, and develop camaraderie.

Not to mention the added benefit of winning.

According to Ian Robertson, a psychology professor at Trinity College in Dublin, the experience of winning is life-changing.

Robertson has studied winning throughout his academic career and argues that winning influences not only your physical health but your mental functioning and your overall psychology as well.

In his book “The Winner Effect” Robertson writes that winning is fun because it releases chemicals linked to power and happiness.

“Winning increases testosterone, which in turn increases the chemical messenger dopamine, and that dopamine hits the reward network in the brain, which makes us feel better,” he wrote.

For some of our students, Friday Night Lights III was their first taste of rigorous athletic practice and discipline, their first experience playing on a sports team, and their first chance to feel the ecstatic glory that only athletic victories can bring.

And what beats that?