THE PRESS BOX FOR DEC. 5
In the past, sports stats were a luxury available only to professional and major college teams. The members of the press normally took their own or used whatever they could gather from the local schools (speaking generally about high school).
Recently, say in the past 15 years – with the help of computers and cell phones and social media – it has become much easier to obtain accurate information.
For the average coach, statistics are a nightmare. With all the other facets of the game on his/her shoulders, stats are not on the top of the coach’s list. Stats require great amounts of time and effort, and they need to be accurate – which is a huge burden and responsibility.
Today, with the tablets and even hand-held versions, it’s much easier. My gripe is, how do so many people come up with so many different stats? I pride myself on the stats I keep, yet often I second-guess myself because of the variance from schools and other sports writers.
Inaccurate and incomplete stats have about as much value as no stats at all. I had asked a coach not long ago to help provide stats and his answer was, “I don’t fool with them, because they’re not worth all the effort.”
I disagree with that! Stats are worth every ounce of effort put into them. They do the athlete justice. Many an athlete has received credit for another person’s performance because of someone who didn’t know how to do or keep stats, or just favored one athlete over another.
I often wonder how many athletes were credited with something they didn’t do. My plan for this winter is to keep the best stats that I possibly can on every player I watch and then compare them to what is sent to me or other reporters.
Over this past volleyball season, it became apparent (very clear) that some stat padding was going on. It wasn’t just me that noticed it, but several others. Even at a college game this season, there was a three point shot credited to the wrong player.
In a day when software programs ensure accuracy in stat keeping, there are still mistakes because of what is entered. We are nearing a time when there will no longer be a need for score sheets; everything will be handled by computers.
All to often I see bench players, school kids, and others without much experience keeping the local high school stats. It makes one wonder how many athletes over the years made all-star teams, player of the week, athlete of the yea, and even all-tournament teams on the shoulders of what someone else may have done.
After a recent football game at a local high school, the stats turned in to the newspaper were very incomplete. After a few phone calls I found someone who had stats similar to mine. Not exactly, but very close. Rushing yards by one player was off by nearly 40 yards comparing ours with the schools. Passing yards were different for a receiver by 21 yards.
Now, if you listen to the radio, you will be all confused; read your local paper to get the best results.
For the Silver Knights Football, I use what the statisticians send me. They are very accurate and match up closely to what I keep. I would like to see more defensive stats in all sports.
Remember the old saying, “Defense wins championships.” Let’s give some credit there as well. In volleyball we keep the stats on digs and blocks, in basketball on rebounds defense and offense, steals and blocked shots.
My point is, parents and kids know what they have done. They keep track of their points and stats. I get calls all the time from people concerned over inaccurate stats. I believe here, locally, we do a pretty good job at the schools, but to be fair to all athletes, it would be much better if qualified people were in charge of the stats; all too often, school-aged stat-keepers get busy talking to each other and give the points or other stats to the wrong person. They are also more likely to favor one over another. I also don’t believe parents should be keeping stats. Each school should look back to how it was done years ago, when schools had a statistician.
Volunteers are hard to come by nowadays, but it’s well worth the hunt if the school can get someone dependable to take care of it.
Kids running the score clock is also a mistake. Should never happen! All too often their minds are not on the game; they are watching what goes on in the stands or elsewhere. How many times have you witnessed the wrong score on the board or the wrong time? How many times have you seen the clock still running when it should have stopped.
Adults make these mistakes also, but it’s better for them to have that responsibility than the kids. Sports for the athletes isn’t always taken seriously, and it should be.
And I know this will come as a shock to you, but did you know why the possession arrow was created in 1981? It was largely implemented because NCAA referees couldn’t get it right. They couldn’t make good tosses, and coaches were bemoaning about the movement of players around the circle. Bad refereeing? Who would have thunk it! It’s the greatest example of taking a sledgehammer to kill a gnat! email@example.com