Fracas mars an old city rivalry

November 17, 2007|By GREGORY KANE

It was another classic game from a classic series -- the annual fracas between the City College and Polytechnic Institute football teams.

The final score of this year's game -- which featured some spectacular runs and a stunning, one-handed catch for a touchdown by City receiver Adrian Coxson -- was City over Poly, 26-20. The quality of the game showed once again why the City-Poly football game is one of the oldest and greatest high school rivalries in the country.

But what have people been talking about all week?

"They weren't talking about how this was our third straight win over Poly," said City College Principal Tim Dawson. (Only those City College alums who suffered through that drought of 17 straight Poly victories from 1970 to 1986 can appreciate Dawson's statement.)

"They weren't talking about how Poly is ranked No. 4 in the state and how City is ranked No. 10," Dawson continued. "They're not talking about our world-class IB program or the Ingenuity program at Poly."

But plenty of people are talking about the 22 girls arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a post-game brawl outside M&T Bank Stadium.

And whom have some parents blamed for the brawl?

If you answered, "Why, the girls, of course," then you're clearly not living in 21st-century America, where reprobates, scofflaws and assorted wrongdoers are never to blame. But almost anybody else is fair game.

The "anybody elses" in this case are Dawson and Barney Wilson, the director -- the equivalent of principal -- at Poly. The reasoning -- if indeed it can be called that -- goes something like this:

A couple of bimbos have a fight over a boy this past summer. According to Dawson, an investigation revealed that one of these girls attends City College and the other attends Poly. Two weeks ago, Dawson said, the two girls saw each other at a mall. Words were exchanged.

Now the dispute can't be confined to the two of them. That would be too much like right. Other girls get involved. Nasty messages were sent to MySpace sites.

"The language is not positive," Wilson said of those MySpace messages. "The tone is not positive. A lot of he-said, she-said."

Dawson and Wilson are to blame, the tortured logic goes, because they didn't keep track of what a bunch of bimbos were saying on their MySpace pages. If anyone knows for certain that the job titles of "principal of City College" and "director of Polytechnic Institute" are listed as part of the Department of Homeland Security, kindly enlighten me.

"As principals, we're not intelligence agents," Wilson said of himself and his counterpart at The Castle on the Hill. "We're not prepared to sit around and monitor everyone's MySpace page."

Nor should they be. But parents should. Hey, now there's a thought: Where were the parents of these students when all this bilious talk was going on in cyberspace?

"We don't monitor MySpace," Dawson said, almost echoing Wilson. "If parents are aware of this, they have to have responsibility. I'll tell you one thing: I'm aware of what my children do on the computer at home."

Wilson said parents need to ask themselves a plethora of questions, chief among them being: "How much time is my child spending on MySpace and the Internet?"

Let's cut to the chase: Had the parents involved simply done their jobs, then this incident never happens. The kibosh is put on the whole thing before it even starts. The eight girls from City College who were arrested -- and whom Dawson subsequently suspended -- don't get arrested or suspended. Nor does Wilson have to suspend the three girls from Poly who were arrested. The girls from Western, Edmondson, Pikesville, Parkville, Samuel L. Banks and Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical high schools don't get arrested either.

Dawson said the eight City College girls are banned from all school activities for the remainder of the semester, including a popular ring dance scheduled Dec. 1. Wilson said the three Poly girls won't be attending their ring dance either.

"It's not a popular decision," Wilson said of his action.

I get the feeling that Poly's alumni, who are probably still bristling about the incident, will support Wilson. City College alumni will back Dawson, who sees the fight as not in the spirit of the "good, clean, competitive, collegial rivalry" between the two schools.

Every year, student representatives from City and Poly sign a "commitment to sportsmanship" agreement, which requires students to refrain from violence. Those who thought it didn't apply to them now stand corrected.

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