County's athletes are better students than some suspect


February 23, 1997|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Our county athletes are getting a bad rap, and this Sunday sports smorgasbrowse starts with a defense of those who play.

Let me say, first, the numbers bear out the fact that overall, Anne Arundel County athletes are actually better students than many who do not play.

But the hottest topic around the county right now is academic eligibility, and a lot of people misunderstand some of what has been written.

It's a fact that Anne Arundel County, with its 2.0 grade-point average requirement (one failing grade of E is allowed), is a Baltimore-metro area standard-setter in terms of academic requirements.

Only Howard County's standard is more stringent, requiring a 2.0 and no failing grades.

Baltimore (no more than two E's), Baltimore County (one E allowed), Carroll County (one E allowed) and Harford County (must pass five core subjects) have no minimum GPA for athletic eligibility.

None of the county's three major private high schools -- Archbishop Spalding, St. Mary's and Severn -- have minimum GPA requirements, either.

Fewer than 10 percent of those participating (about 1,450) in Anne Arundel winter sports -- boys and girls basketball, wrestling and indoor track -- were ineligible when report cards were issued last week.

That 35 percent ineligible figure that has been bandied about is in relation to the entire county student body, which numbers nearly 18,000. Of that number, about 2,000 are involved in athletics and extracurricular activities.

Of the 6,171 ineligible students in the entire, 12-high school system, about 125 are athletes -- just 2 percent of the overall number of students ineligible.

County boys basketball players dragged down the athletic program with just under 20 percent of those participating (all athletic numbers, include varsity and JV) ineligible, the most since the 2.00 grade-point average requirement began five years ago.

But the girls were remarkable by comparison. Only 10 girls (about 3 percent) were ineligible.

For the most part, Anne Arundel County public high school student-athletes have proven that the 2.00 requirement is attainable. You need only look at our All-County Academic Athletic Team each year to see that many of each school's top students are athletes.

In a letter, Broadneck boys lacrosse coach Clay White wrote: "It has become quite easy to criticize public schools lately for any reason. Fortunately, public schools have made a strong stand to put grades before sports."

'Maryland madness'

That's what the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is calling the open draw at 1 p.m. today for boys and girls basketball at High Point in Prince George's County.

Is that original, or what?

Maryland Lottery commission machines will be used to draw the teams. Wow!

MPSSAA Executive Director Ned Sparks has lined up live music, door prizes, apparel and chow for the draw, which is open to hoops fans, coaches, athletes and parents. The grand prize is an all-expense paid trip to the 1997 Great Alaska Shootout.

All the hoopla is designed to get your mind off the draw -- which rewards mediocrity, not achievement. What the state should do is send the open draw to Alaska and freeze it forever.

Taped title tiffs

Tuesday's county basketball championship doubleheader at Gambrills will be taped by Jones Cable 22.

With Bill Frey handling the play-by-play duties, the 5 p.m. boys game between defending champion Broadneck and Chesapeake will be broadcast Wednesday and again on March 5.

The girls' 7 p.m. game, between Annapolis and Meade, will be broadcast on March 3 and March 10. View times will be 7: 30 p.m.

Terps coach hunting here

The University of Maryland's new football coach, Ron Vanderlinden, and his staff hope to meet all the Anne Arundel County high school football coaches on March 5 at Manny's 4100 Club in Brooklyn.

Information: Tom Conley (410) 355-5271, or (410) 372-8267.

Saints top hockey seed

St. Mary's ice hockey team (9-1) took the top seed for this week's Maryland Scholastic High School League playoffs at Ice Gardens in Laurel. The Saints have a first-round bye and will play Tuesday.

Have an idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-Hour Sportsline, (410) 647-2499.

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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