The Sour Poi Awards 2013

Celebrating the best of the worst of 2013 — the dumb, the deranged and the indefensible.


(page 4 of 5)




UH football coach Norm Chow had a rough season, winning only a single game. After one particularly brutal loss in November, against Utah State, Norm was quoted by a reporter as saying, “I’m too old for this.” He later rushed to disavow the statement, saying, “I’m not going to quit ever,” and clarifying that he had been speaking tongue-in-cheek.


UH athletic director Ben Jay sparked a mini-firestorm of controversy among long-time fans in February when he announced that all of the UH men’s sports teams were going to be known simply as Warriors, dropping the “Rainbow” moniker entirely. He clearly underestimated Hawaii’s love for its ‘Bows—just three months later, he reversed his decision, naming all the men’s teams, “Rainbow Warriors.”


The University of Hawaii’s distinctive “H” logo has turned out to be unexpectedly popular with Mainland high school teams. This fall, UH sent a cease-and-desist notice to the Hooker Horney Toads, an Oklahoma high school team that was using the distinctive jagged H on its helmets, except in purple. The Horney Toads weren’t the first to appropriate the logo—in 2010, UH came to a licensing agreement with the Hightower Hurricanes in Texas, which had also been repping the H.


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Former UH president Evan Dobelle may have gotten out of the Islands with a $1 million settlement in 2004, despite accusations of mismanagement and deception, but he never managed to escape trouble entirely. In November, he retired as president of Westfield State University in Massachusetts, after being placed on leave so the school could investigate allegations that Dobelle was recklessly spending school funds for personal expenses.


In June, the federal government demanded that Hawaii give back more than half a million dollars in stimulus funds, after learning that it had been used to buy computers and multimedia equipment for a nonprofit three years ago, but that the equipment was never even taken out of its boxes. Federal officials, understandably, called it “not a prudent or reasonable” use of their money.


In May, Halekulani Hotel apologized to Hawaiian musician Weldon Kekauoha after he and his family, who were at the hotel’s pool, enjoying a Mother’s Day weekend staycation, were questioned by security guards after another guest did not believe they were guests. Said Kekauoha, “It’s quite obvious that we were singled out purely because of the color of our skin.”



Eva Laird Smith announced her resignation from her position as executive director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts in November after a flap over the misuse of a 1968 photo of kumu hula Iolani Luahine. The headless image of the renowned Hawaiian cultural figure appeared in promotional material for Hawaii Fashion Month, and on coffee mugs, T-shirts, tote bags and other swag, offending many in the Native Hawaiian community.


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