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Parasiliti: MVAL elects to take self out of plain site

January 01, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Couriers of the world, beware.

There is a bounty on your head.

No, UPS and FedEx guys won’t have to be fitted for Kevlar vests, but someone broke one of the unwritten rules of delivering news.

Someone shot the messenger.

Any area sports fan who may have woke up with a Gatorade hangover after overindulging at a New Year’s Eve sports celebration on Sunday got another headache if they were surfing the web for Monocacy Valley Athletic League information as a remedy.

It wasn’t there.

It was “Last call for MVAL ball” on Saturday because the league’s Board of Control pulled the plug on its own league website.

The site was commissioned by former members of the Board of Control to help get the MVAL word out to the world. The three-county, three-division sports league is situated close enough to everything on a map but far enough away to keep it on the fringe of large media coverage.

Nowadays, the site isn’t unique. Other high school sports leagues — like the Mid-Penn Conference — have much more elaborate operations in place. The MVAL site was cottage industry taken on by Dave Foltz, a North Hagerstown coach with an immeasurable devotion to high school athletics.

The site was a clearinghouse of information just because the MVAL is divided into the Antietam, Piedmont and Chesapeake Divisions, which are located in Washington, Frederick and Carroll Counties.

It was about the only place where fans could turn for comprehensive lists of schedules and statistics comparing athletes and school teams. It also provided some history and record keeping for at least the last 10 years.

The site had information at the fingertips.

The Board of Control had some legitimate reasons for sacking the site. Legitimate as in legal as opposed to logical.

The board pointed to equality as the main reason. It claimed there was unequal coverage for non-mainstream sports and Title IX issues. Title IX is a law created in 1972, basically to put men’s and women’s sports on an equal playing field.

The board chose to take down the site while trying to address these important issues. In a sense, its hands were tied by the rules and a solution wasn’t readily available.

From here, it just looks like someone complained they weren’t getting a big enough piece of the pie and used threats to get their way.

Hey, why not? That has become the American way.

Still, this has become another case where the actions of a few impact the benefits of many.

Every MVAL sport seems to be represented on the site. The perceived problem is there is more information displayed for football, basketball and baseball than the others.

Don’t think that’s by design. It’s easy to prove there is more mainstream interest — and many more stat categories — in those three sports than any other. It isn’t just on the MVAL site. There are more football, basketball and baseball games on television than field hockey and volleyball.

So, that draws the line. On one side is interest. On the other is entitlement.

In today’s world, you cross those lines by self-promotion. In my experience, football, basketball and baseball (softball) coaches share a wider range of information. It might be a pain, but they understand the benefits.

Volleyball, soccer, wrestling and track are starting to catch up on that front.

The bottom line is pro and college sports have public relations groups driving exposure. On the high school level, that falls to the coaches of each individual sport and their administrators. You get what you give.

For the MVAL site, one dedicated guy is doing the work for 23 schools and all related programs. In this Field of Dreams, provide it and he will post.

Just sheer involvement will probably fix most problems. This site had the possibilities to be something that could really promote great accomplishments and the futures of athletes in this tri-county area.

It already has. All you need is to look at the site’s list of MVAL athletes who have gone on to play in college and professionally.

Still, it is a shame closing the site was the only way to fix the problem.

It shows an NBA-NFL mentality. If we can’t solve it, we’ll lock out instead of using good faith while searching for a solution.

Maybe that analogy is too extreme, but so is turning off a website that only promotes a league, its schools and, more importantly, the athletes who participate midway through the school year.

The site has only scratched the surface of what it can offer. Hopefully, it will be back soon.

That way the messenger isn’t dead. He just suffered a flesh wound.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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