This may not come as a surprise, from someone who graduated UT with an accounting degree: When given the opportunity, I keep score at Jack’s basketball games. Most of the parents from Jack’s teams (basketball or baseball) know why: Keeping the book keeps me from yelling from the seats too often and too loudly. Keeping the book helps keep me calm, and rational, and really makes me focus on all aspects of the game.
I enjoy keeping score, which I only do in the rec league. From the scorer’s table, I get a unique view of travels, and steals, and the often missed/improperly called foul. From the scorer’s table, I can hear coaches and assistants planning strategies before the game, and during time outs. At the scorer’s table, you’ll often see me smile when I overhear the boys ‘encouraging’ each other with heated commentary.
At the scorer’s table, I meet people. There are always two of us – one keeping the book, and one working the clock. Many of the league refs know by now that I do not like to keep the clock. The pressure is just too much on the clock, and the action is so visible- turn it on, turn it off, make sure you turn the arrow, and my favorite – was that a 2 or a 3? Sure, the more you keep the clock, the easier it is; I’d just as well keep the book.
Keeping the book relaxes me. I have a system for Coach Nick – written numbers in the quarter, and beside the player’s name means a shot was taken and made; zeros mean a 2 pointer was taken and missed; triangles mean a 3 pointer was missed; circle with a line through means foul shot made for 1 point; circle underlined means missed foul shot. Throughout the columns, you’ll find my R’s, T’s, S’s and A’s: Rebounds, Turnovers, and Steals…..and the ever illusory Assist.
Let me tell you, if this Sweeney gives credit for an assist, that player rocks.
See, an ‘assist’ in basketball is one of the most subjective statistics in basketball. Assists are granted completely at the judgment of the scorekeeper (that would be me). There is no formal definition of the ‘assist.’ The NBA Statistician’s Handbook states that ‘A player is credited with an assist when the player makes, in the judgment of the statistician, the principal pass contributing directly to a field goal (or an awarded score of two or three points)‘. That is, two things need to happen: first a pass is made from one player to another; and then, the second player makes a shot that goes in.
I’m very stingy on handing out assists, and I feel so judgmental about it. I guess that’s the one thing I don’t like about the scoring table – there is a point where I watch refs and coaches and players act as ‘judge’ for others, by applying the rules of basketball as they see from their position on the court. And I really don’t like to judge.
I know of another table where there is no judgment, only forgiveness. How I wish every table could be like the welcoming communion table, the open table to which Christ invites each and every one of us. At this table, we recognize that God gave us the ultimate assist by giving us God’s son, Jesus Christ. God passed Christ to us, and it’s up to us to carry the ball to the basket by sharing Christ with others.
And this month, we all get to add a beautiful scoring to our book of life:
Let’s make it a star, for the ultimate assist God has given to us in the form of a baby, come to save the world. (MT 2:9b-10; LK 2:10-14)
Merry Christmas, everyone.