Feb. 14, 2013 — Overstepping authority to a point of no return?

This week, a pair of members of the Maryland General Assembly — Jon Cardin and Dana Stein — put forth a bill to require helmets for girls’ lacrosse in club and public high-school play in the state of Maryland.

The bill is laughable in the current context of not only the role of protection in the game, but in terms of who has the right to control athletic competition.

As it stands right now, the bill subverts the right of the National Federation of State High School Associations and U.S. Lacrosse to regulate the sport within the borders of the state of Maryland.

The bill also calls into question the long-time fiefdom that high-school sports is vis-a-vis the state legislature.

The Maryland General Assembly is one of the only legislative bodies in the country that wields absolute authority over the duly appointed committees of its state governing body, in this case, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. It also is one of the few that is a part-time position; the state government has only about 90 days to put forth the sum total of all bills, budgets, and regulations for the entire year.

As a result, the MPSSAA has had rules and regulations which have been slow to change in the face of reality because of legislative inaction. Maryland had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century when it came to the rights of the disabled in high-school sports. And yet, the state also has the shortest regular season in field hockey (12 games) than any other state — a figure that has not changed in decades.

It may be time for the Maryland General Assembly to assess whether its overweening legislative authority is a solution, or the problem.

Perhaps it’s time for the part-time General Assembly to get out of the full-time business of sports regulation.

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