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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Dave Nichols: Box scores a chronicle linking today’s events with the past

When I was a kid – still learning how to read, really – the first thing I would do in the morning while eating my Froot Loops would be to pour over the box scores in the paper.

If I didn’t get through all of them before having to rush off for the bus, I made my Mom swear she’d save the sports page for me until after school so I could finish them. It didn’t matter what sport was in season – though baseball was (and is) my favorite.

This is a habit that some 40 years later is still true.

The agate page is the first, and sometimes only, page I read every day. If you know what you’re looking for, the box score is all you need to know about the game.

It’s more than numbers and stats – the box score is a memorialization of what happened and by whom. You don’t always need flowery prose or hard-hitting analysis to figure out how the game was won.

But it’s nice to have that other stuff, too. Otherwise I wouldn’t have a job!

For high school sports, though, the box score means even more than that.

With newspapers getting smaller and reducing pages all the time, many are reducing or eliminating box scores – especially high school scores.

For pro sports, you can get box scores anywhere on the internet now. Sports news sites, team websites, fantasy sites, gambling sites and blogs all carry them. It’s one area papers can trim back without getting too much negative feedback from readers – though die-hards like me will argue with their dying breath that the scores and game stories are the prime function of a daily sports page.

But for high school sports, the local paper is still the primary place to get the previous day’s scores. It’s the only place to get them organized and together.

Here at The S-R, we’re proud to still carry daily box scores for all varsity sports for all schools over the six classifications in Eastern Washington and five in North Idaho. That’s at least 18 sports, 14 leagues and more than 70 schools we report scores and stats for.

Reporting high school sports results and stats in print isn’t something that benefits the paper – we don’t make money off of it. In fact, we are the only paper east of the Cascades in the state that still prints daily box scores.

Rather, it benefits the schools, athletes and alumni. For us, reporting prep scores is something of a public service. It’s an important function to keep in touch with communities throughout the region.

We realize how important it is to communities, schools, parents and grandparents, and student-athletes to see their names in the paper, even if it is in the smallest of print in a box score. It’s a chronicle linking today’s events with the past.

Unfortunately, with our hard-copy subscription area shrinking every year, those box scores are reaching fewer and fewer communities. That doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying.

Folks in Clarkston or Odessa or Tekoa or Northport or Bonners Ferry might not think of The S-R as “their” paper anymore. But we are the paper of record for all those schools and the leagues they play in.

It’s an arduous task for a sports department one-quarter the size of what it was just 10 years ago to track down, organize and file scores and stats for so many sports and schools, even if we aren’t delivering them to your door anymore.

They are, however, online at NWPrepsNow.com for everyone to enjoy – and almost immediately after we receive them.

But we can’t do it alone, and we still want to do better at it.

We have to rely on coaches, administrators, parents and student scorekeepers to call or email with your school’s stats on a nightly basis – and before our 10 p.m. deadline – in order to get those scores in the next day’s paper.

We can fairly confidentially rely on online stat services – such as Scorebook Live, Athletic.net and Gamechanger to name a few – to track down some results, especially for the bigger schools.

But as the classification size gets smaller – or the geography widens – it’s incumbent upon the schools to send us their info – and not just for the home team, but for both.

And that takes a little bit of time for already stressed and overworked coaches. We’ve had a few isolated incidents this fall of a school representative telling us they don’t have time for “the newspaper stuff,” and “why should we care, you don’t deliver to us anyway.”

We might not deliver to you, but we probably do to the school you were playing. Is that fair to them?

If a school, or administrator, or coach doesn’t see the value in reporting their scores – or it’s too much trouble for coaches to take 10 minutes to email or call with their scoring summary – that’s a decision they are free to make. We’re still going to try our hardest to track the info down otherwise.

But it’s the kids and their parents that lose out. And isn’t that why you’re doing it in the first place?

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