Quick Reads

View from a former Rainbows football player

March 11th, 2013

Mr. Reardon, I received a copy of your 8 February article from Mike Biscotti. It has been 42 years since I stepped off the playing field at the old "Termite Palace" (Honolulu Stadium in Moiliili district at the corner of King and Isenberg Streets) as a University of  Hawaii Rainbow football player. Over the years I have made efforts (with little luck) to help bring some unity to players of that era. Thanks to Na Koa, however, that is finally starting to take place. Last month the issue of "Rainbows" versus "Rainbow Warriors".... versus (now) just plain "Warriors", came into the spotlight.

When I played for UH, we had no issues with the term "Rainbows". As you may know, UH was originally the "Deans" in the very early years. But then "Rainbows" came into being for an appropriate reason. If there was an issue with the term "Rainbows" being used in a derogatory manner on the playing field, we remedied that the good old fashion way--by playing smash mouth football and knocking those who would dare mock us on their okoles. However, I seldom recall that being an issue. We were also often referred to as the "Bows" (especially in the local press), which I also think was unique. "Rainbows" or "Bows" was/is indeed very unique--something we don't see much of these days among sports team names. I know of no players who ever had an issue with it. The only issue I think several of us had was those horrible blue/green floral blazers we were charged to wear for away games! Fortunately we had very few away games in my days. A few of those jackets, I might add, still exist today. It is a hoot to see who can still fit in one--let alone have the courage to be photographed wearing one--as was the case two years ago when Murray Cassidy brought his to the Hawaii vs Army game held at West Point.

I hope the fan base in Hawaii will step up and make an issue of this matter. But that has yet to be seen. In my opinion, we need something to stir up and invigorate the masses. Apparently apathy in the fan base has been cited as the reason for initiating the proposed name change. Trust me, that is not the answer. The answer is winning and projecting UH as the powerful football program it is very capable of turning itself into once again. From everything I've seen and have heard (even back here on the east coast) I think Coach Chow has what it takes to turn things around, especially if support from the fan base can hold firm.

I find it interesting that Mr. Ben Jay has made [an apparent] unilateral decision to go with strictly "Warriors". Please answer: WHY?  I am now a 20-year employee at Penn State University--the Nittany Lions (within "The Nittany Nation"). I can guarantee you that if someone in a position of  leadership at Penn State proposed changing the name to strictly "Lions" a riot would ensue. And I would imagine that individual would be run out of town on a rail. UH has (or should I say had?) a unique team name. I didn't mind the addition of "Warriors" to "Rainbows", although I didn't really see that as necessary. The Ohio State University has the nickname "Buckeyes". What the hell is a "Buckeye"? But if someone were to suggest changing that name, I guarantee you it would not only get national attention--the perpetrator of such a name change would be run out of Columbus also. I find it particularly interesting (and perhaps ironic) that in Mr. Jay's previous life he served (no less) as a senior member on the staff of The Ohio State University's athletic department before coming to the University of Hawaii. Could it possibly be that he was run out of town for suggesting an alternative to "Buckeyes"? Of course I jest, but hopefully I make a point.  I'm sure Mr. Jay is a fine man who is quite capable of running the finances and operations of the University of Hawaii's athletic department. But let him leave the marketing to the marketing experts--of which he is proving he is not--unless this is some sly effort on his part to energize the masses. If that is the case I take it all back and pronounce Mr. Jay a genius.

The nickname "Rainbows" is not only unique--there is a standing story behind it to which each and every player that ever wore a UH football uniform knows is true. I seldom recall a day that didn't go by that did without seeing a rainbow nestled at the apex of Manoa Valley. Sometimes there were double (and occasionally even a triple) rainbow for all to see and admire. So it is very easy and appropriate to see how "Rainbows" transpired.

Tradition is important. I spent a major portion of my life as a U.S. Marine. Even though my contemporaries are old and gray, we still cling to one word  to describe ourselves--"Marines". We don't need to be called "Marine Warriors" because that would be redundant. The same goes (in my humble opinion) for "Rainbows". The warrior part should be displayed of the field where actions speak louder than words. As for my "Rainbows" roots, many of my vintage still refer to ourselves as "Bows"-- or "Mature Bows"! That is also very unique and something only we ourselves need to understand.

Quick anecdote in closing.... As you may know Penn State has not had a particularly great year here in "Happy Valley". But we did have a particularly satisfying season in football. Despite all the issues and poor examples of leadership I observed throughout the ordeal, the new coach, fans, and players hung together for one of the most memorable seasons ever in the history of the university. UH is equally positioned to have the greatest fan base of any school in the nation. That fan base, however, needs to stick with the team through thick and thin.

Respectfully yours/Go Rainbows

Greg Johnson
UH Class of '71
(seasons '68, '69 and '70)

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