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Front Row: Dogged Legislators Made Lacrosse Official Sport

By Simon Habtemariam

In 2004, the Maryland General Assembly had some serious legislative action brewing. From slots to taxes to education and beyond, state senators and delegates were hammered with crucial dockets.

Amid the swirling action in Annapolis, delegates Jon Cardin and Steve DeBoy took it upon themselves to sponsor a bill that would lighten the mood in the state house, yet impact Maryland history forever.

Effective Oct. 1, 2004, lacrosse became the official team sport of Maryland, thanks to Chapter 272, Acts of 2004; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-308.

"I think lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport," Cardin said. "Especially for those who know what to watch for, it can be very exciting."

Cardin, a lifelong lacrosse player, suited up for the Park School in Baltimore and Division III contender Tufts University. Upon taking office as the state delegate for District 11, Cardin learned two important lessons about the history of Maryland sports in the state house.

The equine industry in Maryland has a long, rich history and its supporters are vocal and influential.

In 1987, newly elected delegate and current Speaker of the House Michael Busch made an initial attempt at recognizing lacrosse as Maryland's state sport. His attempt was squashed by Senate President Mike Miller, who is both the current longest-tenured state senator and the great-great grandson of a national jousting champion.

Cardin and DeBoy found moral support from Busch in their 2003 attempt to oust jousting. While they could not find a way to supplant Miller's support for jousting, they did find a way to reach a compromise.

Miller is an alumnus and supporter of the University of Maryland. After the Terps' Final Four trip in 2003, morale was high in College Park and lacrosse had a warm place in Miller's heart. Cardin, Deboy and Busch were able to reach a compromise. Jousting would remain Maryland's state sport, but lacrosse would become Maryland's official team sport.

To remind himself of this great moment in both sports and legislative history, Cardin hangs a copy of Maryland's state poster from 1988. Included are images and symbols which serve as reminders for the state's rich history in sports -- jousting, sailing, the Orioles, the Preakness -- but the most prominent image features two lacrosse players in the dead center of the image. The symbolism means something to Cardin, who said he enjoyed seeing lacrosse at the center of the sporting history of the state he serves.

More Front Row:
Soccer Standout Takes Coaching Skills To Central America 
One Love Foundation Soars Beyond Goals  
Studies Show Lacrosse Is On Growth Binge 
Dogged Legislators Made Lacrosse Official Sport 
Mike Bordick Welcomes New Orioles Role 
Annual Plunge Raised $2.5 Million In 16th Year  
From The Cheap Seats 

Issue 170: February 2012