Giving thanks to the unsung heroes of sports

Published 10:47 am Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sports writers are asked a lot of questions about a lot of things. I’m going to answer one today — “How do you get all of those stats?” — and hopefully not blow the roof off the building by revealing an industry secret.

You see, the answer is simple. Like Santa Claus, we have magical elves.

These folks don’t wear pointy hats and shoes, or have funny-looking ears. You’ve seen them at every high school sporting event you’ve ever been to and might not have realized it. You might even know them.

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Our elves are the people sitting alongside the fence with a scorebook or a tablet, the parents walking the sideline with a tackle chart or the sports information directors who work their statkeeping wizardry during a fast-paced college game.

They’re the assistant coaches who stay up until the wee hours of Saturday morning breaking down football game film and charting stats.

These unsung heroes of the sports world help folks like myself in more ways than even they probably realize. Their dedication and cooperation make it possible to turn two numbers of a final score into flowing descriptions of the game.

My job is fairly simple — take the raw material and boil it down to a few hundred words a reader can understand. Without the parents, SIDs, coaches and other volunteers calling, texting or posting that information, however, that becomes next to impossible. It’s easy to write a story when you have tons of stats and details. Not so much when all you have is a final score.

This is National Newspaper Week, when papers across the country celebrate their role in the community. Smaller towns like Vicksburg have what we in the business call “community newspapers,” which aim to serve their readers on a more personal level.

The sports section follows that model to a T. Without the community’s involvement, our pages would be filled with volumes of wire copy. With it, we’re able to provide everyone with an accurate, informative description of what happened and how.

So, the next time you see one of our helper elves feverishly keeping score or charting stats, give them a hearty “thank you” or an appreciative nod for all the hard work they do.

I know I do.


Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120 or by email at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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