Homer says please draw playoff line

October 24, 2002|by ANDREW MASON

Go ahead, call me a homer. Everyone in our sports department has already.

I'm a Pennsylvania boy, born and raised in the Keystone State. My perfect afternoon is a blend of Nittany Lion football and Yuengling Lager.

But, I'm now living in Maryland, and I couldn't be happier about it. There are certainly no complaints yet on this end ... they sell Yuengling here and we put Penn State football on our front page.

The only criticism I've voiced all fall is the same as Joe Paterno's recent outcry: the inept Big Ten refs have ruined the Lions' BCS chances.


Now, I'm ready to open another can of worms. But, before you read any further, you must know that I root for the Orioles and Redskins, not the Phillies, Pirates, Eagles or Steelers.

That's my disclaimer.

So, being the new guy, I didn't realize until just a few days ago when I was scanning the area's postseason soccer tournaments that Maryland's governing scholastic sports body - the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association - invites everyone to its postseason soccer tourneys.

"What?! Everyone!?," my jaw dropped.

"Yeah, everyone goes," affirmed colleague Bob Parasiliti.

Maybe it's because I haven't really known any different than the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, but what in the world's that all about?

I always thought the playoffs were reserved for the elite of the elite, something for coaches and players to spend countless hours, if not years, focusing toward with still slim hopes of reaching.

Heck, just up the road in Waynesboro, Pa., they're jumping up and down about the Indians' first trip to districts in 11 years.

All along, I just figured the MPSSAA's draw for bracket picks was about figuring out where teams, such as the 11-1-1 Williamsport boys or the 9-2-1 Middletown girls, fell into the mix - never in a million years thinking the 0-13 South Hagerstown girls or the 3-8 Brunswick boys also had to be accounted for in the brackets.

And - I really don't mean to be picking on South, where coach Bruce Buhrman has done as good a job as any keeping the girls' spirits high - but the Rebels are the No. 5 seed in the Class 1A West region with a first-round bye. Meanwhile, the 7-5-2 Williamsport girls are No. 10 in the same region without a bye.

When they say a draw, they really mean a draw. And I think somebody needs to draw a line.

For starters, four classifications already seems to be a bit too many for a state the size of Maryland. Two - big-school and small-school - seems more like it, and not just because that's how it's done in Pennsylvania, where, obviously, a state title stands for a little more.

Sure, it's always great to include everybody, but this isn't church-camp kickball. Maybe the next thing I'll find out is that the MPSSAA doesn't keep score, either.

Speaking of scores, put this one in your back pocket: Penn State 31, Ohio State 28.

Andrew Mason is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5121, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at

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