The agony of defeat was especially painful when the Spanish Fork High basketball team met the Nebo School Board recently.

The team had been invited to play a preseason game with a Hawaiian team it played in Spanish Fork two years ago. Spanish Fork team members would need to pay for air fare to Hawaii and for food, but lodging would be provided by Hawaiian players.The school board rejected the idea even after being assured the players would raise funds to cover their costs. Board members voted the proposal down because of the amount of school that players would miss, indirect costs to the district and fear of setting a precedent for other teams wanting out-of-state travel.

"If we allow you to go, every athletic team in the district could go, `Oh ho, we have a chance now,' " board member Bonnie Palmer said at this month's board meeting.

The board allows non-athletic teams, whose requests it has approved, to travel to other states for conventions, tours and competitions, but a few years ago it stopped approving such trips for sports teams.

"I don't know what gives one group preference over another," said Mike Gardner, Spanish Fork High coach. "This is a great opportunity that has presented itself that doesn't come every year. It's something we have not gone out and sought. It has come to us."

Gardner said each of the 12 boys invited to Hawaii would need about $400. The money could be raised with summer jobs and group-sponsored events such as fund-raising breakfasts, sports competitions and work projects.

His comments were in response to a query from Palmer on whether funds would be raised with service projects or by "begging" from the business community.

"In a city this size, $400 is a lot of money," Palmer said. "The business community is always being asked to sponsor some trip, like the cloggers just recently."

School board member Bill White was concerned the trip would require the district to take out additional insurance but was told the liability involved with a trip to Hawaii was the same as that of travel to any other state.

Board members debated the value of travel as an educational tool but finally decided that setting the precedent could be too expensive in tight economic times. With four members present, the first meeting ended in a 2-2 vote. The board held a special meeting last week, and the team's request was voted down 3-2.