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Leading off

Welcome to the latest Baltimore Sun blog, a space for thoughts and commentary on high school sports and the people who play, coach and administer them.

The postings here typically will be ideas that might fall short of a full column, but nonetheless are worth exploring. And rest assured, unlike some television stations that have jumped lately into high school coverage, we won't be advocating booing opponents here.

That said, three cheers to Channel 11 weather forecaster Sandra Shaw for spending part of her morning today at Catonsville with the field hockey and boys and girls soccer teams, as well as some football players. It's easy to forget that there are other varsity sports played in high schools these days other than football and just about anything that shines a spotlight on those teams is a good thing.

Still, we might suggest to Shaw for future visits that she appear in something other than a Ravens jersey and that she know who the previous night's opponent is before talking about the game, as she had to be corrected on the field hockey match last night against Wilde Lake.

Actually, Shaw's plugging of the field hockey and girls soccer teams dovetails nicely with an announcement this week that for the first time more than 3 million girls nationwide participated in sports last year.

The National Federation of State High School Associations reported this week that just over 3.021 million girls played high school sports in the 2006-07 academic year, more than in any previous year.

More than 4.32 million boys participated in high school sports programs last year, the second-highest figure in the past 29 years.The overall total of 7.342 million kids playing sports is up 183,000 from 2005-06, the biggest single year rise in 12 years.

We'll break down participation in individual sports in subsequent posts.

By the way, while this is a high school blog, we commend to the attention of any coach, parent or prospective athlete this week's Monday Morning Quarterback column from Sports Illustrated's Peter King.

Of particular note is the first item from a now former Washington Redskins player about the feeling of being cut and having your career end. It's the side of the game that few in sports talk about, namely how to separate yourself from something you love.

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