New guidelines for athletic events affect all schools following fight


Photo courtesy of @Kdub_335 on Twitter

MCPS suspended football operations temporarily at Northwest and Gaithersburg high schools after a fight broke out on the field between players and coaches.

By Collin Chen, Online Editor

On Wednesday, September 21st, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) announced new safety guidelines for athletic events following a brawl during a football game between Northwest and Gaithersburg high schools. 

According to the Gaithersburg Police Department, four juveniles and one adult were charged with assault after the incident at Gaithersburg High School. 

As a result, MCPS has decided to put in effect new restrictions, effective Friday, September 23rd. This announcement was made by the District’s Director of Athletics, Jeff Sullivan, during a press conference on Wednesday, September 21st. 

“The policies are put in place to help make sure everyone is safe and happy,” WCHS security staff member Mr. B said. “Our job as security is to help enforce these rules, especially at the football game. The policies are what they are, all that matters is that everyone is safe and will still have a good time.”

The steps taken are only the first of the three-tiered approach. In case of further incidents occurring, the district is prepared to move towards tier two where schools and teams could be subject to limited spectators or game time changes. Tier three involves a possible closure of concessions, parent-only attendance or no attendance whatsoever. The county is prepared to implement these measures, but are hoping to not take away from the excitement of sports games.

“I believe the restriction on student’s from non-participating-schools was unnecessary,” WCHS senior Konnor Lee said.  “Most of the problems resulted from conflicts with the students of the participating schools. However, I do believe the policies regarding large crowds was necessary because students tend to act dangerous or inappropriate in those crowds.” Lee said.

Student reactions tend to believe that some of the guidelines were unreasonable. However, WCHS senior Vincent Leon believes that the restrictions were reasonable punishments for schools involved in the Northwest and Gaithersburg incident.

“What happened at NW and Gaithersburg was terrible and should not go unpunished, but the rules that are being enforced should be reconsidered,” Leon said. “An event that happened at another school should not cause all the other schools to suffer.  It is unfair to apply rules to schools that the issue was not present at. The Friday football games are meant for students to let loose and have fun with friends after a long school week. These restrictions take away the high school football experience that students look forward to.”

Besides students, teachers and staff also attend the football games frequently as chaperones and they have witnessed similar incidents at WCHS. Math teacher Mrs. Malonoski enjoys attending the Friday night football games and believes that eliminating the number of spectators will benefit the safety of everyone.

“The less people we have, the more safe the games,” Malonoski said. “As you bring more people into a situation, different points of view will arise and conflict can easily be stirred up during the excitement of the game. I believe the new rules create a safer place for everyone,” Malonoski said.

Even with the negative feedback, it is unlikely that the county will go back to old procedures as they are prioritizing proactive safety. The goal of these policies is to have a successful football experience for all involved. WCHS has a low history of incidents at football games and fans should continue that respect. For now, high schoolers should remember to bring their student IDs to the next football game.

“People need to understand that their actions have consequences, and if they mess up they are not only messing up for themselves, they are messin up for their peers,” Leon said. “At the end of the day, we are still going to have to follow the rules. Moving forward, we should not be hating on the people who caused these rules or those who enforced them, but rather working together so we can all have fun at the athletic events while staying safe.”