1,000 points may not equal elite status

In 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first ever 4-minute mile. He ran it in 3:59.4. In 1954, that was a feat that would have garnered front-page headlines.

Today, the record has slipped down to 3:43.13, a mark held by Hicham El Guerrouj, a man who may be one of the best middle distance runners of all time.

The National Football League has become such a quarterback friendly league, that once jaw-dropping passing numbers are now expected out of teams’ quarterbacks. Before the year 2000, there had only been 37 instances when a quarterback passed for more than 4,000 yards in a season. The first one to do it was Joe Namath in 1967. Last season alone, 10 quarterbacks in the NFL threw for more than 4,000 yards.

Trends like this happen more often than not in sports. It’s how sports evolve – a once elite or prestigious number over time becomes the standard.

As it has happened nationally, it is now happening locally on the high school level.

The 1,000-point threshold in basketball used to be an elite mark – a number only the best of the best could accomplish. However, it seems these days that every other game, another player is entering into the 1,000-point club.

Prior to this season, basketball seasons consisted of 20 games and every team was guaranteed one tournament game.

In past years, it was rare for players to get consistent time as freshmen. Today, a freshman in a starting lineup isn’t uncommon.

If players started getting regular playing time as freshman, which is the case more and more these days, it’s safe to say that the player participated in 80 regular-season games over the course of their careers. Teams played 21 games per season (84 for the career of a player), but some players are going to miss from time to time. So for argument sake, let’s use 75 games in a players’ career.

If someone were to play 75 games from freshman through senior year, to accomplish 1,000 points, that player would have to average 13.3 points per game. Now that’s a fine number. Many coaches would be happy with that number. But if in today’s game a player averaged 13.3 points per game, they would be toward the bottom in the weekly statistic leaders in each week’s Tribune Chronicle.

Now, from here on out, players will be guaranteed 23 games, as this was the first year that Ohio upped the regular-season games to 22 per season. If a player was a freshman this year, let’s say they play 84 of the possible 92 varsity games in their career. If so, they would only need to average 11.9 points per game. Again, a consistent number, but it doesn’t scream elite.

There are many reasons the 1,000-point number is becoming more frequent. In many cases, teams are fielding smaller numbers of players, forcing coaches to use freshmen who can handle varsity playing time. Also, specialization of sports has decreased students from playing multiple sports, so some players who might have also played basketball as well as a spring sport, have dropped one or the other to focus their talents on one.

Also, coaches are always building for the future. Even though they might have upperclassmen leading their team, they want as many players to have experience so the well is never completely dry. Hence, younger players get playing time when they can.

This season alone, six girls and three boys have hit the 1,000-point barrier, which is the most the area has seen in years. From here on with a 22-game schedule, the number is only going to get larger from here on out.

By no means am I diminishing the accomplishments of the athletes who have hit the mark this season. It is truly a great feat and all athletes should be proud of themselves for hitting the benchmark.

However, starting this year and in the future, the number is less elite than it used to be.