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Bits & Pieces: High school sporting events offer a lot of advantages over pros

A couple of weeks ago I decided to go to a high school football game at one of our local schools. I have always enjoyed high school sports, and on this bright, cool day, the play was spirited.

I wandered over to the concession stand just to see what was being offered and discovered that the prices were reasonable. Although I decided not to eat, the food also appeared to be healthier than what you would find at a professional stadium. I swear an ambulance should be waiting outside these pro sporting events to take people to the cardiologist.

I nearly suffered a cardiac episode myself at an Orioles game at Camden Yards a few years ago when I saw what they were charging for cotton candy — a dentist's best friend. To charge over a buck for what is essentially spun air is outrageous. I would be embarrassed to ask people to pay for what is, in reality, nothing.

I have always enjoyed the atmosphere at a high school sporting event. You will invariably meet someone there for a chat. The crowds are generally small, the bands are great and you can actually see the play on the field.

Then there's professional football games, where often the cheerleaders and the bands are better than the actual teams themselves.

The walk from the parking lot to the stadium entrance is one fraught with danger. You have to step over the broken beer bottles, and navigate through individuals who are tailgating a little too hard.

At high school stadiums, there is no pat down. At professional football games, you have to enter almost naked. You have already been told not to bring anything inside the stadium, except for your wallet of course. And if you happen to want to bring your children to the game, be prepared to pay an arm and a leg.

Then you are seated behind someone who is either seven feet tall or is wearing a crazy hat. And let's not forget, when it's third down and everybody stands, you can only see the logo on the back of the jeans of the person seated in front of you.

At high school games, you almost never see fans escorted out of the stadium by police. But at the professional level, the question isn't if it will happen, it's how many times.

After high school events, the discussion following a game lasts for a couple of hours. After a professional game, the talk seems to be endless and going nowhere. And as for those who attended the game, all they are reaching for is the Pepto-Bismol.

Columbia Association makes tennis hire

The Columbia Association has a new tennis general manager.

Anish Manrai, a 35-year-old from Mumbai, India, previously was the director of tennis at the Midtown Athletic Club in Palatine, Ill. He had been at Midtown for the past 11 years, and in 2010, he was named both the Illinois Professional and Player of the Year.

He received his master's degree in international business from the University of Sydney in Australia. He completed his undergraduate work at Mumbai University. He was vice president of the United States Professional Tennis Association in Illinois, and is currently a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff and Adidas Tennis National Advisory Board.

He described his new position here as bringing a great opportunity. "The people here have been phenomenal and I've been well received," he added.

Anish replaces the late Brenda DeCesare as general manager. Brenda passed away on Aug. 2.

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