In storm's wake comes another storm


January 17, 1996|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Academics first, athletics second?

Hypocrisy or not?

Anne Arundel County's decision to play three straight nights -- today through Friday -- to make up postponed games is raising questions about priorities.

Yesterday was the first practice in nearly 10 days with the postponed Jan. 9 schedule to be made up today and Tuesday's slate moving to tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday as regularly scheduled.

It has been a long-standing rule that public school athletic events are not allowed the night before exams, but obviously that does not apply to Centers of Applied Technology students.

Vo-tech exams are scheduled for Friday while the regular curriculum mid-semester exams are slated for Monday through Wednesday of next week.

No athletic contests are permitted on Monday or Tuesday, but in an unprecedented move they are permitted Thursday the night before the vo-tech exams. Wednesday and Friday are the only game days next week.

"The superintendent's office felt that under these special circumstances, an exception could be made," said Rick Wiles, the county coordinator of physical education.

"After speaking with Ken Lawson [associate superintendent], we decided to go with our policy of the next playable date to make up the games. There are not that many [vo-tech] kids involved out there."

Annapolis athletic director Fred Stauffer was adamant in his disagreement with the decision.

"The Board of Education policy says you are not supposed to play the night before exams and I don't know how Rick [Wiles] would know how many vo-tech students are involved," said Stauffer.

"I didn't think it was right a couple weeks ago when we had to play three nights in a row and I don't think it's right now. I don't understand why we have just one day of practice and have to cram in three games before exams."

Stauffer and Southern athletic director/coach Tom Albright can't understand why the exams were not pushed back or why playing three in a row could not have been done after the exams or at the end of the season.

"There was no discussion with us [coaches, athletic directors and principals], no input," said Glen Burnie coach/athletic director Terry Bogle. "The decision came from down there [Board of Education].

"I don't understand why we didn't practice on the Martin Luther King holiday [Monday], and then we could have played Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday."

County officials feared all the school parking lots would not be clear by Monday, thus no practice.

In this era of open tournaments where all teams qualify no matter what their records, why is there an urgency to make up the games anyway? No other metro area county is playing three nights in a row this week.

"If you're going to put an emphasis on the county championship, then we have no choice," said Bogle.

Broadneck coach/athletic director Ken Kazmarek said, "There is a lot of wear and tear on the kids," playing three days in a row, but "we don't want to lose games and the revenue, and need to get the games in."

Stauffer disagreed, saying that three nights in a row is a burden not only on the players, but "not as many parents and spectators are likely to come out."

Vo-tech students aside, students missed more than a week of school because of the snow, and have only four days (starting two hours late) this week to review for mid-semester exams. Just how much catching up will they be doing, in which direction?

"I agree wholeheartedly that we are not sending the right message, and yes, it does look like we are putting athletics before academics," said Stauffer.

The burden is not solely on the students either. What about the teachers who coach?

"When do we find time to get ready for the exams when we are out every night this week?" said Meade coach and teacher Butch Young. "I didn't have any of my materials and the things I need to prepare exams at home last week during the snowstorm and couldn't get in to school to get them."

Wiles understands the feelings of those opposed to the grind, but said, "There are no easy answers when you lose this many dates and we're giving athletes the opportunity to compete."

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