While Hawaii doesn’t have a big-time professional sports franchise, Island sports fans still have plenty to cheer about. The local calendar is filled with major sports events, from PGA TOUR tournaments to the Honolulu Marathon and NFL Pro Bowl.
Football fans get their fill of gridiron action each year. The Hawaii Bowl is a postseason contest in December that pits two NCAA Division I schools in a thrilling college football match-up. January’s Hula Bowl on Maui, meanwhile, allows some of the college game’s premier seniors to showcase their skills in front of watchful pro scouts. And the NFL Pro Bowl, held the week after the Super Bowl, brings the top players from the National Football League to Honolulu for hard-hitting all-star action. For Arena Football League fans, the Hawaii Islanders play at the Neal Blaisdell Center each summer.
Golf aficionados in Hawaii “score” with a number of major competitions on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. The Wendy’s Champions Skins Game, hosted by the Wailea Resort on Maui, features four of the sport’s greatest legends in two days of “skins” competition. (Past participants have included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Gary Player, and Raymond Floyd.) The Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, Maui kicks off the PGA TOUR in January, and the Sony Open on Oahu follows up with another week of birdies, eagles, and aces.
The holiday season brings a pair of action-packed college basketball tournaments: the EA Sports Maui Invitational and Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic. Hoops legends such as “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Elvin Hayes, Michael Jordan, and Isiah Thomas as well as current NBA stars Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Marcus Camby, Paul Pierce, and Nick Collison have all showcased their skills in the Islands.
Hawaii also hosts two of the top endurance events in the nation: the World Ironman Triathlon Championship on the Big Island and the Honolulu Marathon on Oahu.
UH College Sports
Hawaii’s “home team” is the University of Hawaii. The school’s football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and soccer teams all receive tremendous support from the local fans. The teams even sport different nicknames (“Warriors” for football, “Rainbow Warriors” for men’s basketball, “Rainbow Wahine” for women’s volleyball, etc.).
Hawaii’s sports notables include amateur golfer Michelle Wie; boxing champion Brian Viloria; NFL standouts Jason Elam, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Ashley Lelie and Jeff Ulbrich; Major League pitchers Jerome Williams, Justin Wayne and Tyler Yates; and NBA veteran Anthony Carter.