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MCPS Board of Athletics has decided to try to make a change in the playoff format, instituting county championships, in addition to the pre-existing state championships. A county championship seems like a great idea because it gives every county in Maryland an opportunity to beat the schools they play over the regular season.
In the past, this has been a topic of discussion, as sports like tennis, golf, and track had county championships, but sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer did not. There is no reason for the disparity, but nevertheless it would be cool to see who comes out of the county a champ in each sport. In baseball regional finals this year Sherwood High School had to face Dulaney from Baltimore County, while school like Whitman and Clarksburg were in it. “It sucked to play a team in a different county, while Moco teams were still alive,” Sherwood baseball player senior Ian Brady said.
A change would not only make the playoffs more competitive, but it will also give a greater reason for fans to come out to these events. Students come out to sporting events for many reasons, such as social interaction, a friend on the team, or just to support the school. If Wootton plays Severna Park in the Regional finals it would not draw the same attraction as Churchill, just based on the fact that they are this school’s rivals, and students have friends that go to that school. One example is hockey, a club that does not follow the same guidelines. Going to the semi final game and seeing 200 people there while they played Carroll County, was not the same as seeing 1000 students there to support the Patriots take on rival Churchill. There is a different reaction from students when you tell them that Wootton is playing someone who they know. “The support of the student body just changes tremendously when we are playing someone in our division,” junior soccer player Thomas Jezek said.
Another factor that discourages students from going to these important games is the distance between the schools. In these games there is a home and an away team, and the fans for the away team do not want to travel 40 minutes to see their high school play. This is a huge problem as the home team rules the stands, and the away team feels like an important game is not as important. Having fans at a game can influence the outcome tremendously. An article from Sites at Penn State says “Crowd noise is a key component of a team’s home field advantage, and it’s no coincidence that these stats show staggering numbers that favor home teams.”
County Championships would increase the competitiveness, the number of fans, and would change the disparity between individual sports and team sports. Let’s hope Nov. 13 vote results in a yes to this beneficial change.