Parents are asked to do so much for scholastic sports teams that I hate to pile on and ask them for more.
But Mom, Dad, the team may need you again.
If you look back through the reported games this fall, you'll find an extraordinary number of reports where the coach couldn't give us all the statistics of the game. Often, we're told, the scorebook has no indication of who assisted on a goal, or the exact time the goal was scored. In rare circumstances, the coach may not know who scored a goal, at least from an opposing team.
We get shot and save totals that don't add up - more than once, a coach has stopped in midsentence and said to me, "That's not right."
And it's not fair to the kids.
This is always a problem with any number of teams in almost every sport. But for a few teams, it's become a dire issue - and, to use a trite cliche, it's for the kids: They suffer when their career stats are skewed by the fact that the scorekeeper makes mistakes.
It's great when students - teammates, friends or volunteer managers - want to do their part. But they tend to get caught up in the game. They tend to be overly generous in interpretations, or don't know the rules of scoring.
They don't talk to each other - I've been at games where the two scorekeepers sit side by side, and at the end of the game their books don't even come close to matching.
A lot of teams are blessed with adult volunteers who keep score now, and they tend to have the most accurate books. If your son or daughter's team is one of those, make sure to thank the scorekeeper next time you see her or him.
But the rest need a hand. It's a sacrifice - instead of watching your kid, you have to watch the ball. The reward is that your kid - and a roster full of their friends - will know that someone has their back, along with their book.
Stats themselves are admittedly somewhat subjective, although fairly easy to figure out. Soccer and field hockey perplex scorekeepers, though, and it's because there are multiple definitions of what constitutes a shot.
A true shot on goal - whether in soccer or field hockey - is a ball directed toward the goal that either crosses the goal line, or would have crossed the goal line if not stopped by an opposing defender.
An alternate - but widely accepted - definition is often applied in scholastic sports, one that is based not on where the ball finishes, but what the shooter was trying when the action of the shot began: A shot is an attempt that is taken with the intent of scoring and is directed toward the goal (for the benefit of the kids, this is the one I encourage as a sports editor when we are covering games).
The rules of soccer specify a difference between crossing kicks that are and are not deflected by goalies (the former being a shot, if it could have gone in the net).
In field hockey, of course, a shot has to be made inside the scoring circle. Because of the limited scoring area, hockey scorekeepers tend to award a shot only under the tighter definition (although, despite the belief that a shot must meet the tighter definition, the intent can be taken into consideration, according to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association statistics guide).
An assist, in either sport, is awarded to a player who makes a pass to the shooter as part of the act of scoring a goal. Field hockey specifically defines the distance the ball can move after the scoring player takes possession (five steps).
Soccer allows for two assists on any goal, although the secondary assist can be awarded only if that player's action is a part of the scoring play. In field hockey, a secondary assist can be awarded only on a penalty corner in which an inserter, stopper and striker are involved in the goal, according to the NCAA's scoring manual for the sport.
A save is awarded when a goalie stops a ball from entering the goal. Defensive players also can make stops, although no save is awarded in that case.
Try it next time you're watching a game - and then think about raising your hand when the coach asks for volunteers.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.