Peterson: Stats are vital in sports coverage

It’s a point I always try to emphasize to every new coach I may encounter.

And that point is: Try to keep the very best stats you can and get them to me as soon as possible.

Late Mining Gazette sportswriter/editor Dick Loranger gave me the same instructions when I wrote my first sports story way back when.

When was way back then?

Well, Lyndon Johnson was still President of this country. Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. was still producing copper at a good rate. And the price of a stamp for a letter cost all of two cents.

Loranger was a particular stickler on basketball box scores. He insisted that made field goals, made free throws, personal fouls and total points be in the box score. Along with a quarter scores and, if possible, the names of the officials working the game.

“A complete box score can tell a person just about anything he needs to know how the game went,” he said.

He was right on that statement.

Over the years, the format has been boiled down to a very few bare facts. It’s something that was done, ostensibly, to save space.

That’s an argument I never have — and never will — buy. Call me old-fashioned or just plain stubborn, but that’s how I see it.

The other sports, football in particular, also require a good stats.

In this enlightened electronical age, there are hand-held instruments that literally can keep track of a game as the action is taking place.

Most coaches in every sport are very good about keeping accurate and timely stats. Andy Crouch of Lake Linden-Hubbell and Mark Leaf of L’Anse are especially proficient.

Many basketball coaches will zerox a copy of the book — making it much easier a

With shrinking deadlines, the timely part is most important.

So, the next time you may think stats are not a key part of a story, think again.

Nowadays, stats are used mostly to add meat for a player hoping to gain an extra boost in salary negotiations.

For instance, if a running back gains 1,000 yards in a season or hits .300, that could mean an extra zero in his salary. And zeroes are what it’s all about in our society today.