Lacrosse is the 1

Forum Extra:

November 27, 1991

THE ARGUMENT made in John Brain's column (Other Voices, Nov. 15), questioning the worthiness of jousting as the state sport certainly adds fuel to the controversy about which sport represents Maryland's interests. Many Marylanders have never seen or participated in jousting and probably never will.

Duckpin bowling is apparently enjoyed by many. To my knowledge, bowling alleys permit smoking. Is it really proper to even consider bowling for the state sport, when many of the "athletes" smoke while actually performing the sport?

Field lacrosse has been played in Maryland since 1878. Recognized as America's first sport, lacrosse has brought much national recognition to the Free State. In 110 years, Maryland colleges and universities -- the Naval Academy, St. John's, the University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins -- have won or shared the national intercollegiate lacrosse championship over 70 times. Hopkins even sent its 1928 and 1932 teams to the Olympics.

And there's more. There are more than 7,000 men's high school players and 4,000 women's high school players in Maryland alone. Youth lacrosse is played by more than 20,000 boys and girls under the age of 16. Inner-city lacrosse programs in Baltimore and Annapolis have over 500 players. Post-college players number over 1,100. On any spring weekend, you can catch a lacrosse game in 20 of the 24 subdivisions in the state.

Amateur lacrosse is played year-round in Maryland. Often thousands attend a game. Annual attendance for all lacrosse games surpasses a million each year in Maryland. The 1989 NCAA Division I lacrosse final four, held at College Park, drew over 44,000 spectators and national television coverage.

Lacrosse should be considered Maryland's official team sport.

Donald T. Fritz

The writer is archivist of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame Museum in Baltimore.

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