Two recent incidents of violence involving athletes and fans at high school events -- one still under investigation by Prince George's County school officials and the other being looked into by the principal at Wheaton -- have caused concern about safety at athletic events.

School officials, athletic directors and coaches agree that the handful of incidents involving players and fans each year is a major issue in the area. But most are satisfied with the safety precautions taken in their respective jurisdictions. They say the number of incidents has not increased in the past few years -- a few say it actually has decreased -- but they know they must work to improve crowd control.

In the 1960s and '70s, there were numerous altercations between fans of competing schools during and following athletic events, prompting the adoption of measures to prohibit, or at least curtail, fighting (such as suspending participants in altercations from school). Most school officials say the decrease in fights in 1980s is related to the smaller crowds (in some cases drops of up to 30 percent), increased emphasis on sportsmanship by coaches and principals, and increased security and police at games.

Chuck Brown, athletic director in Prince George's County, was instrumental in getting new rules and guidelines passed for his jurisdiction following a melee during the Northwestern-Eleanor Roosevelt basketball game last season in which fans from both teams poured out of the stands and fought. No one was seriously injured but three players were suspended from the teams for taking part. Brown said that fight was the final straw and he immediately sent a new proposal to the school superintendent calling for additional punishments for offenders.

"We did not want a recurrence of that problem and we think the new rules and guidelines will cut down on those type of things," said Brown. "We hope so anyway."

Since the new guidelines -- one of which carries automatic suspensions for any players who engage in fighting or leave the bench area during an altercation -- were instituted, there have been no major problems on the field or in gymnasiums. But there was a disturbance in the locker room at halftime between the Oxon Hill and Bowie football coaches and players during their Maryland State Class AA quarterfinal playoff game in November. The matter, which developed out of confusion about which team was assigned to a particular locker room (the game was played at a neutral site) is under investigation by Ed Felegy, the Prince George's deputy superintendent.

"{Except for that incident with Oxon Hill-Bowie}, we didn't have any incidents during football season and so far none in basketball," Brown said. "We hoped the new measures would deter all those problems, and so far we are pretty satisfied with our safety measures. Each school is responsible for crowd control. We do get police assistance and they are mainly responsible for watching the parking lots, keep cars and people moving. I don't care what precautions you take, there may be an isolated incident at any time."

Such an incident occured this year at Wheaton. Following the Wheaton-Wootton varsity basketball game, several Wootton students were assaulted and robbed by a group of students as they left the gymnasium. The schools are in the process of trying to identify the assailants so arrest warrants can be issued. Wheaton principal Joe Dalton is leading the investigation.

"Our school has had a lot of success in many areas, but one bad thing negates 98 good things," Dalton said. "In my six years here, fortunately, we've had relatively few problems. Each school takes care of its security measures and our administrators have done a fine job. We do have police come if we have special concerns, and it would be ideal if we could have them at each contest. But we know there are other concerns and they can't be all over the place."

Montgomery County co-supervisor of athletics Bill Kyle said his office hasn't instituted any across-the-board guidelines for fighting by students or athletes for two reasons -- there haven't been enough disturbances to warrant such action and often it is the person who reacts to being hit who is caught.

"We've been blessed in that we haven't had too many major problems," Kyle said. "But it is a worry such as the Wheaton-Wootton incident and you have to try to be prepared for such things. Generally, the administrators and athletic directors do a good job monitoring their games. And when available, the police are there. Of course, we would like to have more police, or at least the appearance of an officer at times might deter any students who thought about starting trouble. When we've had problems, I would meet with the individual school and work it out."

The National Federation of High Schools doesn't keep statistics of game-related disturbances and depends on each state association to govern their own jurisdiction. "It would be pretty tough to categorize such things. My reports say the incidents are down in recent years overall, mainly because of the new bench decorum rules {coaches must remain seated during play}," said Dick Schlinder, basketball chairman for the NFHS. "Maybe the problems would have not occurred if the rules had not been put in, you have no way of telling. Maybe it is a coincidence the disturbances are down since the rules were put in.

"Coaches and athletes should be held responsible for their actions and jurisdictions should take a look at their individual problems," Schlinder said. "If they are having major problems, they should look at the reasons they are playing. If you're using school funds, time and energy and not teaching anything besides Xs and Os, they need to change some things."

In Cincinnati, officials of the Greater Miami Conference announced a regulation they hope will help curb a recent series of fights at games. The new measure requires that all players ejected from a league basketball game for fighting be suspended from their team's next three games. The rule applies to both boys and girls in grades 7-12.

The league also considered dealing with unruly behavior by fans but declined to add any new regulations. Currently, fans can be removed from the gym or arrested. League officials also encouraged coaches to take more responsibility to keep from inciting fans. Also, referees received a bulletin asking them to try to keep players from taunting one another.

As far as Washington-area officials are concerned, the behavior of players and fans hasn't reached that stage.

"Fortunately, we haven't had to take major steps to punish fans or players because our problems have not been that bad," said Dick Savage, coordinator of athletics in Fairfax County. "It is something we work on a lot. Everyone -- principals, athletic directors, coaches and booster clubs -- all help with crowd control. And we are constantly evaluating what we do. If a school comes up with an idea of bettering the problem, they will pass it on to other schools. After that, I'm not sure anything else can be done."

In the D.C. Interhigh League, increased security from the system's adminstrators and security force, D.C. Recreation Department Roving Leaders and police has put a dent in game-related incidents. But Frank Parks, Coordinator of the SANDS (Sports Activities Not Drugs) program and president of the D.C. Coaches Association, said he felt the schools could use even more adult supervision at games.

"I think the kids will respect the adults if more {adults} were at games and identified themselves as security people," Parks aaid. "I think the behavior is much better overall than it used to be. We just don't have the large crowds we used to have and that helps cut down on the problems. Kids don't fight as much as they used to and a lot has to be attributed to the coaches. But every school has to preach behavior all the time."