A FEW BRIEF ITEMS for consideration:
Officials from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association are to be commended for keeping at their idea to welcome Washington-area schools to the club. The effort paid off this weekend with the addition of Georgetown Prep to the MIAA's A Conference next year.
Of course, Georgetown Prep had nowhere to go, what with the Interscholastic Athletic Conference voting it out for competitive balance, but it's still good to see parties on each end of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway cooperate to raise the level of play.
The MIAA may have the state name in it, but having schools from the Washington area in the mix adds a further air of legitimacy to an already strong league. To wit, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's championships got a bit of heft to them when Baltimore City schools were added to the mix in 1993.
Rick Diggs, the MIAA's executive secretary, said the organization hadn't decided on whether to add more teams, but any new school should either have to abide by the MIAA's rule permitting athletic scholarships or come into the league knowing that Baltimore schools will continue the policy.
Granting scholarships to kids who would not otherwise get into the often-expensive private schools not only helps the competitive balance, but it's the right thing to do.
There may not be many certainties in life, and perhaps fewer in the MPSSAA playoffs, but here's one you can take to the bank: The C. Milton Wright field hockey team and its coaches will not be rooting for Severna Park in tonight's Class 3A state championship game against Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
The Mustangs are still fuming about a call in their Nov. 8 semifinal that wiped out a goal that would have given them a lead and put the heat on the unbeaten Falcons for perhaps the first time this season.
Wright midfielder Mary Waller apparently scored early in the second half, breaking a 1-1 tie, only to have the goal wiped out by the trail official, who ruled that the ball crossed the end line to the side of the goal before coming back into play and into the goal.
That explanation didn't sit well with Wright, which vigorously protested the call, saying that video replays showed a Severna Park defender pushing the goal cage back before the ball landed there. The Falcons went on to win, 3-2, as Kim Kral scored in the final minute.
The school forwarded its tape of the goal to MPSSAA officials as part of a protest of the game. The Wright video appears inconclusive, but footage shot by Channel 2 for its Replay show appears to back up the Mustangs' version.
Nonetheless, the appeal was rejected, even though there was a full week between the games during which an error could have been corrected.
"I know they [MPSSAA officials] weren't going to do anything, but we did it for the girls because they were heartbroken," Mustangs coach Carla Harward told The Sun's Mary Beth Kozak. "They know in their hearts they won that game and they know they should be playing in [the championship]. But it doesn't make it any easier."
Sink or swim
At some point, the furor over Michael Phelps' arrest earlier this month on drunken driving charges will fade, as it should.
Before it does, however, Phelps would do well to visit as many high school teams and locker rooms as is humanly possibly to give a message to his peer group - young athletes. And if he can't get to that many schools, then Phelps should head to a studio and record something beyond the standard public service announcement.
The under-noted part of Phelps' arrest is that, at 19, he was allegedly drinking two years before the legal age for consumption in Maryland. His testimony would be valuable to a group that could stand to hear it from one of its own.