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Washington County school event attendance policy is not getting a perfect score

October 15, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Once you're in, you're in. Once you're out, you're out.

That's the policy being enforced this year at athletic events at public schools in Washington County, said Ed Masood, supervisor of arts, health and physical education and athletics. After buying a ticket and entering the stadium, ticket holders are not able to return to the parking lot.

"You used to be able to come and go," Masood said. "But then we found out they were going out to their cars and drinking."

He said that the rule has upset some fans because they want to be able to go in and out of the games.

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After learning about the rule Friday, Hagerstown resident Edward Reynolds was immediately worried that he would not be able to return to his car if he needed his insulin. Reynolds, who was waiting in line at Mike Callas Stadium to watch a North Hagerstown High football game, said he is diabetic.

"I would prefer to not have to carry it around with me if I didn't need to," he said.

Masood said that exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis, and that patrons like Reynolds would be allowed to return to their cars for medicine.

The policy was enforced at some schools during the last school year, but was enacted countywide this year.

Masood said the rule is in response to the number of people who left games to go to their cars and drink alcohol or smoke, which is not allowed on school property.

Hagerstown resident Conrad Myers said he understands the reasoning behind the policy. While waiting in line to watch North Hagerstown High School's football team compete Friday, Myers said students should not be allowed to go back to their vehicles during the game.

"But if they're with a parent," he said. "Then they should be able to go."

Myers said similar policies exist at games he has attended in other counties.

"It is the same in neighboring counties," Masood said.

The admission to attend a game remains the same as last year: $5 for varsity games and $2 for those younger than 12. Children are not admitted without someone older than 21, Masood said. Nonvarsity games, like junior varsity and ninth-grade events, cost $5 for double-headers, or $3 for a single game, and $2 for those younger than 12.

Masood said ticket sales account for less than 10 percent of the school system's athletic program budget.

"That doesn't even come close to covering any of it," he said.

The remainder of the money comes from an $80,000 line item in the Board of Education's budget, and from fundraising by athletic boosters.

Masood said a lot of fundraising is necessary to fund athletics countywide. An average of $50,000 is spent each month on transportation for athletics, and another $120,000 is spent annually to pay for referees. Additional money is spent on equipment, like balls and nets.

Masood said the only revenue-producing sports in Washington County are basketball, football, lacrosse and wrestling.

The price of admission is evaluated annually, and Masood said he believes there will be a need to increase the price soon. As the price of gasoline goes up, he said, the amount of money paid to referees also will increase.

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