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Is it really for the kids?

February 26, 2002|By BOB PARASILITI

Notice how warm it's been this winter?

There's all that Lou Scally, weather mumbo-jumbo reasoning of temperature inversions and the Greenhouse effect that go around to try and explain it. Don't go there.

If this were anywhere else, I would try to believe such breezy talk. But this is Washington County. This is where hot air is more abundant than clean water.

I all but put SPF 15 sunblock on everytime I hear adults talk about youth sports, especially when it comes time for someone to try and convince us media types that its a must to cover an event. Here comes that age-old line ... "It's for the kids."

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Whoa, there. The temperature jumped 15 degrees. Now I know how a lobster sweats near a boiling pot of water.

"It's for the kids" is the catch-all phrase used to make someone else feel guilty while the user feels better about his involvement - or lack there of - in said event.

The latest of version of "Passing the Buck," brought to you by 1-800-COLLECT, surfaced during the recent North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown basketball game. I'll spare you of the rehash of complaints about the size of South's new gym and how Hagerstown Junior College's athletic complex should have been used.

And let's not forget about scheduling excuses and the one about the ever-changing talent levels at the two schools. And my personal favorite, the expense of staging such games at a neutral site.

This is all prime "it's for the kids" fodder.

None of that should matter if any event is truly "for the kids."

Hello ... if it's good for the kids, wouldn't it also be good for the community?

It's not like Hagerstown and Washington County doesn't need something to instill a little community spirit and pride. About the only thing that puts anyone in a lather here any more is any random zoning commission meeting when someone is trying to build something that will infringe on the space of someone else.

It shouldn't take two really good teams to make everyone anxious about being able to see the game. Games like North-South should be an event, no matter the records. It should be played up to the hilt and at the largest venue possible each and every time they play.

Nothing gets the juices flowing and people talking more than a rivalry game. People talked about Maryland vs. Duke for a week. And like any good story, there are more people talking about the North-South game than could have fit in South's gym.

Everyone is quick to complain but no one is willing to take charge of making a high school rivalry a social event.

Hagerstown often measures itself against Cumberland when it comes to advances and traditions. Fort Hill-Allegany games always seem to be packed. Records don't matter. It's more an occasion to wear either red or blue and yell at the opposite color in good fun.

In a funny sort of way, it promotes unity among the masses. Meanwhile, it is something the kids will remember for a long time, a self-esteem thing. And oh, the stories people tell of the game.

It's not so far-fetched. It used to be that way here.

But to tell you the truth, I'm getting tired of hearing all those old war stories of how old North-South football games used to be played before 10,000 fans at School Stadium. I vaguely remember Smithsburg-Boonsboro, Clear Spring-Hancock and some of the other interchangeable county schools playing against each other and causing a stir.

Some place, somewhere along the line, the people who cared about things like that have given up on the idea.

Now, instead, they have been replaced with people who sit around and get their exercise by pointing fingers and blaming everyone else for the lack of recognition the kids of Washington County are getting nowadays.

I might get blamed for not doing my part, but maybe this column will get someone thinking ahead. Maybe they will start a committee to generate interest in big events and break down the barriers preventing the use of places like HCC's gym.

And when that happens, I'll be there to write about it and "promote" it.

Let me know. After all, "it's for the kids."

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. Contact him at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310 or by e-mail him at bobp@herald-mail.com

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