Last week we reasonably established that during my 30-plus-year career as a sports writer for The Dispatch that I attended perhaps as many as 6,500 games of all types.
No wonder when I go to sleep I have visions of basketballs, bad-hop grounders, errant golf shots and wildly thrown footballs coming at me, on a line, targeted on an infrared dot located precisely between my eyes.
That's a lot of games. And somebody had to play them.
Soooo, how many athletes did I cover in that span?
Sigh. Here we go again.
Using approximations, I figure that I covered something like 24,000 athletes in that span. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But the mathematics goes something like this:
I did my calculations based on the average number of players on a team. A high school football team, for example, has about 40 players; baseball might have 20 players; basketball might have 12 (figure for a boys' team and a girls' team); softball might have 15 players (unless you're at North Davidson, where they have about 50 on the team), while the minor sports like golf, swimming, soccer, volleyball and track might have, on average and give or take, about 25 members on a team (that's high for golf, but low for track).
I think that breaks down to about 200 athletes per school. It's probably a higher number at a 4-A school like North Davidson and no doubt lower at a 1-A school like South Davidson, but we are speaking about average numbers here, and 200 seems fair.
Given that there are eight public schools in Davidson County, that's 1,600 athletes per year. And over 30 years, that's 48,000 pairs of sneakers, boys and girls. Yikes. But I guess that's how many athletes I was exposed to over the years.
OK, OK, that really seems like a high number. And clearly, I didn't spend nearly as much time at South Davidson as I did at, say, Lexington. So, let's cut the number in half, since I did most of my work at the four Lexington-area schools of North Davidson, Lexington, West Davidson and Central Davidson. Now we're down to the 24,000 figure, which feels about right.
But I suppose we could pare into that, too. Any number of those 200 athletes per school play multiple sports — some are three-sport standouts. Why count one person three times? I guess we could safely trim that number down to 150 athletes per school, which gets you to about 18,000 athletes over 30 years.
And of course, not all of them were athletes of the week. Not all of them were the focus of a feature story, or a post-game interview. Some probably never even knew I was covering the game they were playing in.
But the way I see it, if I put your name in the paper for any reason — bobbling a ground ball, missing a critical free throw, tripping over the 30-yard line — I covered you. That's part of the ground rules here.
Then again, I have left out of my calculations the private schools like Westchester Academy, Sheets Memorial and Union Grove. And we can throw in the five years I've worked part-time for The Dispatch covering games as a stringer since I've retired. So the 24,000 figure seriously comes back into play. I don't think this number is far off the mark.
As my career was winding down, I understood that I was covering the children of the athletes I covered back in the late 1970s. I suppose it's possible that before my writing days are through, I could end up writing about the grandchildren of those first crop of athletes I covered when I first started working for The Dispatch in 1976. Have mercy.
No wonder I'm tired.