Sunday, January 8, 2012

No wonder I'm tired — Part I

While covering a North Davidson basketball game for The Dispatch Friday night, I was in a conversation with a friend — who was the official clock operator for the Black Knights — about how many games we've seen over the years.

Because I spent my career as a sports writer, I told him I'd probably have to kill myself if I discovered how many games I've actually been to. Ha ha.

But the question intrigued me. So when I got home I whipped out my computer and started to do some figuring.

(Ground rules: Before we get into it, keep in mind that I wrote professionally for The Dispatch for 30 years. Add another five years as a contract writer — or stringer — for the paper since my retirement in 2006. I'm basing my conclusions just on the high school games I covered, although I worked decades covering ACC football and basketball, not to mention years going to the Greater Greensboro Open and attending any number of NASCAR events at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. We'll get into that later. Obviously, any numbers I come up with have to be reasonable approximations).

So here goes:

The bulk of my writing was covering the big three sports —football, basketball and baseball. So the breakdown goes something like this:

Football — I figured, including playoff games, I averaged 13 football games per year. That's 455 games I've seen in 35 years.

Basketball — Including playoffs, the basketball season is about 14 weeks long, with an average of two games per week. So that's 28 games per season, and at 35 years, that comes out to 980 games. Double that if you want to include girls' games, since they play in doubleheaders with the boys. So that's 1,960 games. Let's round that off to 2,000 games for simplicity's sake.

Baseball — Including playoffs, the baseball season is about 14 weeks long, so it computes like basketball. That's 980 prep games (let's round that off to 1,000). But I also covered American Legion baseball in the summer for 30 years (I haven't covered Legion much in my retirement, so it's unfair to go with the 35 years total). Legion plays an intense schedule, almost a game every night for a month, so figure 30 games a year (including playoffs) for 30 years equals 900 games. Add that to the prep baseball games I've seen and it comes out to 1,900 games. We can probably safely round that off to 2,000 games.

Softball — Local interest in softball picked up dramatically the past 20 years, soooo, including playoffs, figure I averaged 15 softball games per year for 20 years, or 300 games. This does not include the various Lexington city league playoff games I covered early in my career.

Minor sports — These are things like wrestling, volleyball, swimming, track, soccer and golf, all of which I covered, but on a sporadic basis — usually during playoffs or championships. I'm going to say I attended 300 of those events in my career, although I suspect that's a very conservative number. But it's a number I'm comfortable with.

Calculator, please. All righty then: that's 455 football games, plus 2,000 basketball games, plus 2,000 prep and Legion baseball games, plus 300 softball games, plus 300 sundry events, comes out to 5,055 games.

Then throw in the ACC basketball and football games, the GGOs, the NASCAR events I've seen, and maybe you can probably add another 1,500 games (I went to at least 15 ACC Tournaments and at least a dozen NCAA regionals), so I'm figuring that comes to about 6,500 games I've seen professionally over 35 years, or about 185 games per year. Or, 216 games per year over a 30-year period.

This actually feels about right. "I think it's right," said my wife when I showed her the numbers. "I didn't even see you the first 20 years of our marriage."

Yikes. Kill myself? It's a wonder she didn't kill me first.

Up next: How many athletes did I cover?

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