ANNAPOLIS - At least no one brought a horse.
But crimson capes, white lacrosse sticks and plenty of suits
crowded a hearing Thursday on Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller
Jr.'s bill to make lacrosse Maryland's official "team" sport, an idea
jousters came to duel over, fearing it will dilute jousting's stature
as the state sport.
Miller himself turned out to support the measure.
The Calvert Democrat doesn't have anything against Maryland's state
sport - his great-great-grandfather won the National Jousting
Tournament in 1876 - but he said both sports deserve recognition of
their achievements, and he's just the one to bridge the gap.
"It's like Nixon going to China," Miller said.
Miller's bill would not oust the joust, but would add a new
category of state "team" sport to the annals, joining a growing list
of state symbols.
Maryland has a state cat, the calico; a state fossil shell, Ecphora
gardnerae gardnerae; a state summer theater, Olney Theater; and a
state horse, added last session, the Thoroughbred, among others.
Even committee member Janet Greenip, R-Anne Arundel, got into the
spirit, bringing a lacrosse stick to the hearing.
But her display was nothing compared with Alice Blum's pink cone
headdress and matching medieval gown, or Bruce Hoffman's red cape
emblazoned with a gold lion.
Hoffman protested arguments that the lacrosse industry's economic
contribution to the state warrants its recognition in the code.
Industry representatives estimated that the 2003 NCAA Men's Lacrosse
Championship alone brought the state $9 million.
"It's not about how much money you can make for the state," Hoffman
One witness, Mary-Lou Bartram, known in jousting circles as "the
Maid of Bartram Manor," said most jousting demonstrations are done for
free, and money shouldn't be a part of the debate.
"Some things are priceless. Everything else is MasterCard," Bartram
A staple at fairs and festivals throughout the state, jousting is a
fund-raiser for many community events, including some in Miller's
Lacrosse did not lack for advocates, with one student running out
of the hearing to make practice on time.
Jenna Hubbard, a senior at St. Mary's High School, traveled
internationally to play lacrosse in the seventh and ninth grades. She
told the committee the game gives young women the opportunity to
"Lacrosse has offered women all over the state a chance to compete,
travel and experience the camaraderie of participating in a sport rich
in tradition," Hubbard said.
Miller didn't have to leave as quickly. Though the General Assembly
has been crammed with hot-button issues like slot machines, assault
weapons and same-sex marriage, Miller stayed for the entire hour and a
half of testimony.
Christ Church Parish in Port Republic relies on the draw of
jousting's novelty to bring community members to special events, said
the rector, the Rev. John Howanstine.
The consensus that made jousting the state sport in 1962 was a
promise to the sport - one the Legislature should now keep, Howanstine
"Dance with the one that brung ya," Howanstine said.
University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism.