October 5, 2011 / 2:28 PM / 7 years ago

Hawaii makes surfing an official sport

Surfers catch a wave at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii December 5, 2008. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Students in Hawaii could soon be competing against other schools in another competitive sport — surfing.

Hawaii, widely considered the birthplace of modern surfing, has adopted a plan to become the first U.S. state to offer the sport of island kings as an official form of athletic competition in its high schools.

Under the plan, to be paid for entirely with private funds, all of the roughly 50,000 students in the state’s 46 public high schools will be eligible to ride Hawaii’s famous waves as a school-sponsored extramural sport by the spring of 2013.

“There have been surf clubs in schools for about four years, and surfing is a prominent sport in Hawaii, so it was a natural transition to offer school-sanctioned surf clubs,” said Alex Da Silva, a spokesman for the Education Department.

“It also offers something motivational for those who don’t participate in other sports, like football and volleyball,” he added.

The cost of the plan, which has been in the works for four years, was originally estimated at $150,000 per year. About a third of that sum already has been secured from outside sources, Da Silva said, adding that the rest will also come from private contributions.

“Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing. From Duke Kahanamoku to the thousands of residents and visitors who surf ... the sport is rooted in our culture and way of life,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said in a statement.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune

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