Maryland bill would support unusual sports

Capital News Service Annapolis Bureau

A bill in the Maryland House of Delegates aims to expand non-traditional sports and recreational opportunities in Prince George’s County. 

Among them, it names skateboarding, lacrosse, remote control car racing, cricket, pickleball and disc golf — although it allows room for other sports or activities.

“We wanna stay ahead of the curve,” Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s, said at a hearing on March 19.

And in order to do so, the Prince George’s delegation is bringing forth House Bill 444, designed to augment the number of nontraditional sports available in the county.

The area lacks facilities for uncommon sports, Walker said.

For example, there are only four skate parks in the whole of Prince George’s County.

Other equipment is hard to come by, too. Despite lacrosse being one of the biggest sports in Maryland, there’s very little infrastructure within Prince George’s to sustain the sport there.

“I’m taking my son to Howard County and different places. So we’ve got to make it diverse,” Walker said.

But it’s not just more common sports that Walker and the delegation is trying to promote. 

Pickleball, a sport played on a modified tennis court, is among the fastest growing sports in the state; and Walker wants to make courts available for that, too.

“It’s a very popular sport in Howard County,” Del. Jen Terrasa, D-Howard, said at a hearing.

Further options are being explored as well. 

Walker referred to Pump Tracks — a special kind of biking facility — as well as areas to practice cheerleading.

In 2012, Sham Chotoo started a cricket program with the Boys and Girls club in Bowie — and had 50 attendees for a summer camp.

“The larger number of them were American parents who wanted something different for their kids,” Chotoo told Capital News Service.

By the 2013-14 school year, Chotoo was going to local schools and teaching it to upwards of 1,000 kids. 

And with the formation of the Maryland Youth Cricket Association, the sport has continued to expand — despite there being very few proper cricket pitches in the county.

So, cricket is also among the sports named.

The bill doesn’t require extra money to be spent. Rather, it stipulates that the Prince George’s Planning Board establish a fund in Maryland’s Park and Planning Department — and set money aside. 

The bill passed the Maryland House, and awaits a vote in a Senate committee.

“This is an innovative fund that I think will do great things for decades to come,” Walker said.

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