Is The High School Sports Program Budget Scare Over?


October 30, 1991|By Pat O'Malley

You just knew this bag of "Q's and A's" would be a trick-or-treat bag, didn't you?

With this being Halloween week, a trick-or-treat bag of questions without answers is appropriate.

Now remember, the number to call with your own big "Q's," answersand remarks is the 24-Hour Sportsline, 647-2499.

* Starting off with a treat, doesn't it look more and more each passing day like thisbudget fiasco is not going to chop off the best high school sports program in the state?

Doesn't it look like County Executive Robert R. Neall, a man well aware of the values of high school sports, has supported keeping high school sports and extracurricular activities, such as bands and clubs, by finding other ways to solve the crisis?

"We need to get rid of the fat first," said John Smith, a faculty member at Meade High but involved with the Old Mill High School marching band, of which his son is a member.

Smith added, "What people don't realize is that sacrifices are already being made by coaches and sponsors."

Smith's reference was to the proposal to cut coaches and extracurricular salaries, which at best are below minimum wage whenyou consider the amount of time most of these people put in.

Withmore than 50 percent of county students taking part in some form of extracurricular activity or athletics, wouldn't it seem that this is a very valuable part of education and that just as the classroom teachers do, the coaches deserve to get paid? And what they get paid is not what they deserve.

The point is, despite the low pay for what they do, they aren'tbegging for more money, but please, don't cut whatthey're getting now.

I can't believe North County High principal William Wentworth, whom I have a lot of respect for because he is a big supporter of extracurricular activities, telling me that, "We really can't expect school system employees to donate two days' pay out of their pockets to support the extracurricular activity program."

Wentworth was referring to last Friday's "Sidelines" in which I suggested furloughs to save money, something that many coaches and teachers favor over pay cuts.

"These are horrible times, and I don't knowwhere we turn, but I think it's unrealistic to expect secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers right on down the line to donate two days pay to support the program," said Wentworth.

"If athletics meansas much to everyone as they say it does, maybe we're going to have to look to the coaches to do some volunteer coaching and maybe pay forofficials and transportation out of gate receipts. Guys like you andBill Nevin (coach of the Glen Burnie Patriots 16-and-under baseball team) and a lot of other people having been doing volunteer coaching for many, many years and not getting a penny for it. So, maybe in these times of crisis, we're going to have to look some of the people inthe system to do a little bit of the same thing. Hopefully not."

You can count Wentworth himself among summer volunteer coaches. I think it's highly commendable that he is an assistant to Nevin, but at the same time, those of us who coach kids out of school do it for the love of it.

I also think most high school coaches do it for the love of it, but should get paid because of their educational contributions beyond school hours. Guys like Steve Carroll and Jerry Mears, twogreat men and coaches no longer with us, fought long and hard to getdeserved coaches' salaries, and we don't need to take steps back.

How many teachers and principals would work for nothing? So, why then should we ask our coaches, who are also educators, to do their jobsfor nothing when they stay after school a few hours, and other faculty members are gone at 2:30 p.m. everyday?

And does Wentworth, along with other administrative types, realize that cutting coaches' salaries means cutting the athletic director's pay?

Now c'mon, with the part-time salary athletic directors are paid to do a full-time job, how many would work for nothing?

And if we did cut coaches' salaries and eliminate the high school program, can you imagine what the classroom atmosphere would be like and how miserable the other non-coaching teachers would be having to handle kids who would have no incentive to stay in line?

How did you parents like the way the media and our caring politicians mocked the students who didn't do a good job grammatically and spelling-wise, but who cared enough to write andask not to have education money cut?

Shouldn't we have applauded their efforts and been more sensitive to their needs rather than making fun of their lack of knowledge?

And hey, whose fault is that, anyway, and doesn't it clearly indicate that education should be the last item to be cut?

Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Executive Secretary Ned Sparks wrote in the association's newsletter, "It's the coach who motivates, drives, disciplines and instills a sense of commitment.

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