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Parasiliti: Winners can't be painted by numbers

November 20, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

It isn’t uncommon to be searching for value these days.

In these economic times, many look for small numbers to make the dollar worth more.

In sports, it’s a different story. In most events, the bigger the numbers are, the better — well, at least in nearly every sport but golf. If that was the case, I’d have a Masters title and a humanitarian award for the digging the furrows to plant crops and feed the nation.

Numbers are important to sports. Figures and fractions are like chips and chili at a tailgate party.

We got to have them and we go for seconds and thirds.

The pile of wins and losses in team records, and the number of points in a score, are cause for more taunts than a professional wrestler unleashes.

We worry if there’s a little rating numeral in front of our favorite college sports team.

Those numbers give fans — and team owners — a superficial worth for individual players.

An athlete’s batting average, yards per carry or rebounds per game are important facts when filling their wallets at contract time and our fantasy rosters.

Still, players are only as valuable as their last season. The great ones continuously show talent, while others are the product of situations and surroundings.

That is probably most evident on the high school level, where athletes play for fun and not a living.

Big statistics show an inkling of talent, but the best players are enhanced by their situations and surroundings.

We just completed the 2011 fall sports season. Now voters and newspaper reporters tear apart the numbers to compile All-Everything teams and players of the year. They will look at numbers to support their arguments.

As usual, the most successful teams will collect the most accolades because they played in an athletic perfect storm. They had a talented group in the right place, at the right time and the right situation, working together in the right system.

The county’s statistical leaders have names from Boonsboro’s football team and the volleyball teams from Smithsburg, North Hagerstown and Heritage Academy dotting each category.

Eyes gravitate to glamour categories such as rushing yardage or kills. That’s where the “stars” are because they have scored the most and usually get the most newspaper ink.

They are just the most recognized cogs in the total machine. Their numbers are the product of the work of many.

Think back. Very few would have picked Boonsboro’s football team to make a big run in the playoffs after going 2-8 in 2010. It took a number of players with strong wills and a good system to get the Warriors going.

Smithburg and North Hagerstown’s volleyball teams may not have been top choices to win state titles. The Leopards were forced to reinvent themselves after losing last year’s senior-heavy team to win their third straight title on Saturday.

The Hubs had to fight through four teams that finished with no more than three losses to claim their first-ever state championship.

And Heritage — in the words of coach Young-Sook Anderson — came “out of nowhere” to shock the world by finishing second at its national tournament after winning a state title.

Statistics only give a fraction of what it takes to win.

Sometimes, numbers can’t be counted on to make a value judgement.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or bobp@herald-mail.com.

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