Naming rights


Few matters of public policy in Harford County in recent years have been as foolish as the decision earlier this week by the Harford County Board of Education to reject an offer from NFL players E.J. and Erin Henderson to donate $20,000 for a scoreboard at their alma mater, Aberdeen High School, and allow the field at the school to be named after the Henderson family.

One similarly foolish public policy act that does come to mind involved a different incarnation of the school board refusing to name an athletic field of another school after a graduate who was killed serving his country.

In the earlier case, there was some desire on the part of the community to name a field at Fallston High School after Lance Cpl. Patrick Ryan Adle after the Marine, a Fallston High graduate and captain of the Cougars football team, was killed in action in Iraq.

Offering excuses along the lines of "What if someone else is killed in action and there's no other field to name in honor…" that school board rejected the proposal for an Adle Field at Fallston High.

In this instance, the Henderson brothers, who played for the Eagles in Aberdeen and then for the University of Maryland and are now playing for the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, generously offered to donate the substantial sum of $20,000 for a scoreboard at their old school. In exchange, the field would have been named in honor of the Henderson family.

While there is the matter of whether it's appropriate for the school system to be offering naming rights for sale, this isn't exactly what was being proposed at Aberdeen High. In a lot of ways, it would have been akin to a field being named in honor of a civic club or organization had that group put up a lot of money for a scoreboard or other amenity. Think Rotary Field or Optimists Park.

And look at it another way. How many high schools anywhere, not just in Harford County, can boast having two brothers playing in the NFL at the same time, not to mention on the same team?

There also is the unfortunate precedent of the school board failing to name the field at Fallston in honor of Lance Cpl. Adle. Plenty of school system facilities are named after people, and the honors were bestowed for varying reasons, usually political. Why is it reasonable to name a facility after an administrator or politician, but not a former student killed in service to country or the family of a star athlete and former student whose skills were honed on a particular field?

The school board would do well to reconsider both naming issues. It's not to late to change the name of either field.

Unfortunately, given the rude treatment shown the Henderson brothers at the school board meeting earlier this week (the same night the brothers were playing on the nationally televised Monday Night Football), there's no reason to expect the offer to help pay for a new scoreboard to still be on the table.

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