My name is Sgt. Joe Gameday. I carry a pad. And a pen. I'm investigating some folks who are trying to score a game.
No, it's not a crime. But sometimes I think it ought to be.
It was Monday, 4 p.m., a sunny day in Los Angeles. At least, I assume it was sunny there. It was a definitely a nice day here, and there was a soccer game going on. I met my partner, Cal Culator, at the scene.
"We've got a problem, Joe. This man says his goalie had 15 saves."
"That's the goalie's job, Cal."
"But the other team only took 12 shots - and two of them were goals."
The story you have read is true. Only the stats have been changed to protect the innocent.
On two occasions this year, I've been to a soccer game where this has happened - that is, a scorekeeper listed more saves for a goalie than shots faced. One of them shrugged it off as a math error - amazing, considering how many coaches and athletic directors teach math - while the other one insisted that a goalie who touches a ball bound for the net gets a save, no matter what.
But that's not the case - every reference I can find says that a save can only be awarded for a shot on goal (and there's a definition for what constitutes a shot, too).
It's not just soccer. At a field hockey game, the scorekeeper didn't give an assist for a a goal scored on a penalty corner play. But according to the NCAA handbook for the sport - the only authoritative reference on the matter - not only does the inserter get an assist, but the handbook notes that a corner is the only time in field hockey that two players may be awarded an assist on the same goal (inserter and a stopper).
Which is why I just shook my head when a coach - one who has won a state title, no less - told her scorekeeper to add a secondary assist on an open-field tally at another game I covered this season.
I'd keep my own stats at these games, but if I have different information than the official scorebook, someone will be upset faster than you can say "Book'em, Dano." At least once a year, I am contacted- as happened just a couple weeks ago - with an accusation that we denied a child some glory by crediting the wrong person with a goal.
When we go by the home school's scorebook - the de facto official book in the absence of one compiled by a neutral party - we're giving credit as it was on the field. If the scorers from the two teams don't properly reconcile their books - as they are supposed to do - that's not our fault.
There's also the issue of interpretation. In sports like football and baseball, stats are hard and clear (except, perhaps, yardage on a poorly lined field, which is admittedly par for the course around here. Have these people ever heard of hash marks?).
But shots and saves are more subjective. So I'm going to continue to go by the book - the home team's, that is - except in cases like those above, where there is documentable proof of an error.
It seems that boys playing field hockey is a popular topic of late. Daily Item beat writer Matt Corbett and Rod Frisco, the senior statesman of midstate sports writers (add a .com to see what he's up to) both weighed in on the issue about the same time I did.
I'm starting to fall into the camp that believe it should not be allowed, although as noted previously, only school districts can make that call - the PIAA's hands are tied by a court ruling from the past - and too many boards are fearful daddy will sue if his little boy doesn't get to play.
But I have heard one suggestion since this became the most talked-about topic in high school sports: If boys are to be eligible, then the school should add the boys and girls enrollment totals together, just like any other cooperative program, and be classified accordingly.
I'm betting if it means having to play Class AAA, most of the small schools hosting boys now would suddenly have a change of heart. Boys or no boys, schools should not be allowed to have their cake and eat it, too.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.