A very interesting financial report from the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association more than supports how important high school football is to the state's athletic program.
The figures clearly show that football should not be fooled with because of its ability to produce more revenue than any other fall sport. If there is any doubt as to which sport carries the program and which sport is the one most fans care to watch, look at these figures.
In the recent fall tournaments, football grossed $210,180.49 and paid out $41,836 for a net profit of $168,344.49. That's the net from the football quarterfinals, semis and finals in the four classifications -- 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A.
Gross totals released by the state are derived from ticket sales only and the paid-out numbers are expenses such as officials, ticket takers, announcers, sideline people and security. The net profit is used for services provided by the MPSSAA and in essence goes back to the individual schools and districts.
The $168,344.49 net is nearly 90 percent of the total net of $193,454 in all fall state tournaments -- football, boys and girls soccer, field hockey and volleyball.
"Things went better than we expected," said MPSSAA executive secretary Ned Sparks. "By not going to Maryland [Byrd Stadium] and playing games in the backyards of competing schools with some natural rivalries, it went well in football.
"We also had great weather. We will probably return to Maryland next year, because of the atmosphere and a great stadium, but for now it's a tough call."
Past state football finals had been played at the home of the Terps, but due to Byrd Stadium renovations, the four classifications played the finals at neutral sites around the state. Those sites proved to be very conducive to making a huge profit.
Boys soccer was runner-up in net gain at $14,132. The boys soccer finals produced a net of $3,944 as opposed to a cumulative profit of $61,883 in the four football championship games. The Dunbar and Fort Hill of Cumberland 2A state championship football game netted $19,950.
That's nearly $6,000 more than the total net for the four boys soccer finals.
Field hockey netted $3,791 followed by girls soccer ($3,385) and volleyball ($2,424). The volleyball state finals netted only $523.34 with the 2A semis netting just $38.
Keep in mind that the above numbers are from state tournaments played for the most part, if not all, in prime time. And these games should draw more than regular season.
In comparison to the other sports, football is the big money maker during the regular season as well.
If it wasn't for the revenue generated by football, the state would not be able to provide a lot of vital services that gives Maryland a first-class rating.
"Out of the profits, we pay for the transportation expenses of the schools, and in some cases for overnight expenses," said Sparks.
"We also provide district subsidies for running local and regional tournaments, and since we don't charge admission for cross country and golf tournaments, we give the districts money to help run those events."
Among the important services paid out of the net profits are such things as MPSSAA publications, newsletters and rule books. All schools receive them at no cost.
State tournament profits also pay for Minds In Motion certificates awarded to athletes who excel academically.
Some miscellaneous expenses paid by the state include awards, stadium rentals and meetings throughout the state.
Without football's revenue production, the MPSSAA could not function efficiently for everyone. It's a fact what football does for the overall program. It amazes me how anyone would propose not playing all football games in prime time.
In case you were wondering what the 4A state championship game won by North County over Largo of Prince George's County at Annapolis High did financially, wonder no more.
The North-County/Largo finale grossed $12,540 from one of the largest gates in county football history and paid out $1,444 for a net profit of $11,096.
It means the Knights in one game netted nearly more than the entire boys soccer tournament.