Win-win public-private ruling is just a start

On High Schools

Commentary

October 18, 2005|By MILTON KENT

It's nice to see that common sense and cooperation could finally prevail in the negotiations between the public schools and the major Baltimore-area private schools, so that all sides can claim a win.

For the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, which largely govern private school athletics for boys and girls, respectively, in the Baltimore area, athletes from their schools can now play against public school kids not only in this state, but also from other states.

And for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, it ended the threat of potential lawsuits from private-school parents angry that their kids could have lost out on the chance to be seen by college coaches and scouts for potential scholarships.

Actually, the deal won't be completely closed until the spring, when the MIAA and IAAM meet to amend their bylaws to bring them into line with the MPSSAA's Standards of Competition.

Frankly, the private schools would do well when they do amend the bylaws to try to extract a promise from state officials that they will lobby the National Federation of High Schools, the national high school athletic sanctioning board, to grant the MIAA and IAAM equal sanctioning status as the MPSSAA.

In most states, the private and public schools play together in one state organization, but Maryland is an exception and for good reason. Both sides have legitimate concerns about how the other operates and what each side's ultimate goal is.

But the NFHS's rules give the MPSSAA sanctioning authority over private schools, and that's frankly wrong. The MIAA and IAAM represent schools with longstanding athletic traditions who have operated under clearly defined rules for years. They shouldn't have to go hat-in-hand to the MPSSAA for legitimacy. They've had it for decades.

In about a month, Ed Bowie, the athletic director at Central High in Prince George's County, might very well have brought the hammer down on football coach Chris Riley, and it would have been understandable.

After all, the Capitol Heights school had won just three of its past 25 games, working on an 0-5 start this year and an overall 19-game losing streak. It didn't take Nostradamus to determine that Riley, in his third year, didn't have much of a shot at a fourth season.

So, what was the point of firing Riley and his entire staff in the middle of the season? If Bowie were running a big-time college program or a professional team with a sizable fan base and millions of dollars at stake, then a midseason change, under those circumstances, might have been warranted.

But unless Riley had committed a serious rules violation or had done something to hurt his players physically beyond the mental harm a long losing streak can inflict, there doesn't appear to be anything that can be gained from cutting a high school coach loose in midseason.

This isn't Texas or Florida or some other sports-crazed state where the balance between solid athletic philosophy and the "win-at-all costs" mentality is out of whack. This is Maryland, where, until now, good sense usually prevails.

Speaking of wacky happenings from out of state, did you hear about the backup quarterback from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, Calif., who entered a game in the second half a couple of Fridays ago and went 4-for-5 for 181 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-14 win over Ribet Academy?

The quarterback's dad had a hard time getting information about the game out of his daughter, but for Miranda McOsker, running the offense is just par for the course.

McOsker is one of 253 girls among the nearly 100,000 kids playing football in the California Interscholastic Federation, but likely one of the few quarterbacks. The 5-foot-9, 140-pound sophomore has played the position in flag football in both elementary and junior high.

"I didn't try out for quarterback, I was just looking to play anything," McOsker told the Daily Breeze in Torrance. "One day I was throwing with the quarterback after practice and the coaches watched me. They told me to play quarterback the next day and ever since I've been playing quarterback."

On that Friday, McOsker, who has become the starter on Bishop Montgomery's junior varsity team, was standing around as the third-string varsity quarterback when the second-stringer suffered a fractured leg in the game against Ribet, which got out of hand early.

McOsker got the call and delivered.

"She's starting the rest of the year on JV," said Arnold Ale, Bishop's head coach. "She did real well [in the Ribet game]. She made good throws and had a good read on a touchdown pass. It was our first time seeing her in live action so we know she'll compete."

If there are any Kylene Bollers around the Baltimore area, give Brian Billick a call. He could use the help, provided you don't pick up any unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.

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