Letter from the Editor – Is it time to turn out the lights?

Prince Frederick, MD -
This week, without a doubt the local story that got our readers talking—loudly and stridently in most cases—involved the incident that reportedly occurred at Leonardtown High School’s football stadium the last Thursday in September. I use that word “reportedly” because I wasn’t there. What we can tell from the comments is that something did happen that more than a few took exception to. Much of the debate is semantics—for example, is the word “ghetto” a racist slur?—there’s no accurate answer to that question. 

So is there a race relation problem in St. Mary’s County or Southern Maryland? I think it can be stated there is a race relation problem all around the world and it has existed for centuries. It can’t be legislated away. Religion, which can often be the remedy for conflict, doesn’t have much impact here since arguably, churches are—whether they want to admit it or not—the last bastion of segregation.

The race relation problem seems impossible to solve. However, the abhorrent behavior at high school football games might be easier to deal with. When I was a teenager—back in the Dark Ages—night football brought out the troublemakers in droves. At times it seems almost no one was there to watch the game. Many of the fans in the stands were ready to rumble. Some of them were intoxicated. Fights in the stands and on the streets after the game ensued. It was nearly impossible to bring this riffraff to justice. It’s easier to run away from authority when it’s dark outside. In the late 1960s Prince George’s County Public School officials decided to pull the plug on night football (I believe it has since returned). For those of us who were students at schools with winning teams it was a lost memory we can never recapture. While more people attend night games there’s no gate revenue that is worth the risk of creating trouble within a peaceful community. It’s a shame, too. There is nothing quite as cool as seeing two teams vying for victory while battling under the bright lights. It ought to be an American tradition that brings us together, that makes us forget the everyday conflicts.

Perhaps the good high school football programs should be allowed to continue the evening clash under the lights. The weaker teams can play out the string during the day. The notion stinks, I know, but creating a situation where trouble may result needs to be avoided.

It’s not just the kids either. Parents still have a responsibility to be intolerant of any situation where their children are not respectful to coaches, other parents, law enforcement officers and other students. If they can’t instill this modicum of respect, then, in the words of Willie Nelson—“Turn out the lights. The party’s over.”

The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the management of

Contact Marty Madden at

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