Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Measuring heights and weights of athletes

Today I’ll tackle one of the biggest grassy knoll theories in all of sports history. No, not the New England Patriots “spy gate” scandal, or the second fight between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali in 1964 involving the phantom punch, or that Michael Jordan initially retired in 1993 due to his gambling problems rather than mental fatigue over his father’s death. No, today I will try to unfold the mystery of exaggerated heights and weights on NCAA football and basketball rosters.

Thanks to an old college buddy, an ACU alum, for emailing in and trying to gain some knowledge on the subject, which has fueled the motive for this blog. His email also sparked an idea that Lance, Jared and I should leave this ACU blog open for questions that may result in a blog entry. Now you can do this one of two ways, if you have your own blog through blogger, you can leave comments at the end of our posts and leave your questions. Otherwise, we set up an email address for questions and comments, acusports@gmail.com. Obviously, we may not be able to answer every question, but it’s nice to have feedback.

In the short five years of experience I’ve had in sports information. The answer is pretty simple: TNIC (There is no cabal). That’s not to say that an inch isn’t given or taken here or there, or that a few pounds are given here or there.

Note that most of the time in colleges, the media relations folks (guys like Lance and I) control the printing of roster sheets, web rosters, game programs and media guides. To attain initial heights and weights, we generally go with what’s on an athlete’s publicity questionnaire that they’ll fill out as they enter the university.

Whatever they put on that sheet is truth until proven otherwise. Generally before camp opens in football or the first week of basketball practice is when athletic trainers and coaches weigh in the bulk of their rosters.

From there, we’ll receive a spreadsheet with “accurate” heights and weights. Just last week, Lance and I spent about an hour trying to collaborate the spreadsheet we’d just been given and the roster we’d already made.

In some instances, if we run across a player, he says he’s 5-8, 195 when in reality (the trainer’s spread sheet) he’s 5-7, 183; We’d probably leave him at 5-8, but list him at 185.

Weight is a relative thing. For one thing, if a 295-pound lineman at 2 p.m. just went through a two-hour practice in 100-degree heat, at 4 p.m., he may weigh 287. Generally we round up or down to the nearest fifth pound.

Height is a different story, if you’re under 6-0, it really doesn’t matter too much, but sometimes I will admit that I think players’ heights could be exaggerated an inch, or two, or three. Being 6-9 myself, I can usually pick out the ones who might have an exaggerated height.

When I was at McMurry, we had a kid play basketball at 6-10 1/2, but we listed him at 7-0.

So I hope this answers some of the questions. There have been several times when I have scratched my head at some of the paper rosters I receive before a game, and then scratch my head when I see the actual product in front of me. I’m not sure why it seems necessary that some programs may exaggerate the heights and weights. If it’s for intimidation factor, maybe they should just see the result on the court and the field.

Last season in McMurry’s opener, we outweighed Huntingdon College by an average of 15 pounds and as a whole were taller as well, however, Huntingdon doubled us up 26-13.

So at the end of the day, the old cliché goes: It ain’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

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