Better to be safe than sorry is always good policy when dealing with high school sports.
Executive secretary Ned Sparks and the Maryland Public
Secondary Schools Athletic Association made a wise decision last weekend at the boys' state playoffs. For the first time, the MPSSAA used metal detectors at each entrance to the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.
Each fan who sought entrance into the arena Thursday through Sunday raised his hands above his or her head and was checked by an MPSSAA official with a hand-held metal detector.
"It's the first time we've ever used them, but we wanted to send a message that our tournament is for families and kids, mom and dad, not for problems where someone gets seriously hurt for some crazy reason," said Sparks, whose workers did not find anyone with a weapon.
Sparks said that when the precaution was suggested to him about a year ago, he objected to it. But then he discussed it with officials and colleagues in other parts of the nation.
"The more I thought about it, and I thought about it a long time, the more sense it made," he said.
"At the local school games, people know and recognize the rTC troublemakers, and that can be controlled. But that's pretty tough to do with the big crowds we have at Cole for the state playoffs."
When he called around the country, Sparks learned that many school systems use detectors.
"I was surprised to hear that so many were and it's not necessarily in urban areas," said Sparks.
Using detectors seemed wise considering the many crimes being committed nowadays.
"I know most people don't resent going through them [detectors] at the airport or courthouse," he said.
Sparks showed his findings to the MPSAAA executive board, talked to local superintendents and then proposed the detectors be used this year.
"There was no strong resentment by anyone at the playoffs," added Sparks, who said they were not used at UMBC for girls games because the crowds are not nearly as large.
Sparks said Southern of Baltimore, the state 4A champion, sent letters of apology to the University of Maryland for dousing their coach with water on theCole Field House floor after Saturday night's title game.
"That was a first, too," said Sparks.
Lots of points
Leftover local basketball tidbits: The 90.5 points a game (2,172 in 24 games) scored by 21-3 Annapolis is a school and county record, but is it a state record?
It appears that it is, because we can't find anything higher. If you know of a team that did better please, give me a call on my 24-Hour Sportsline, (410) 647-2499.
Honoring the coaches
Finally, our boys basketball and wrestling coaches of the Year, Terry Bogle of Glen Burnie and Buddy Hepfer of Arundel, respectively, will be honored tomorrow evening at Kaufmann's in Gambrills by the Anne Arundel Male Coaches Association.
Bogle and Hepfer will receive Bob Pascal Awards along with longtime Severna Park volunteer groundskeeper Frank Lafferty and Del. Michael Busch.
The Pascal award is in honor of the former county executive and is for significant contributions to high school sports.