I did a few simple mathematical compilations today.
I multiplied 1,400 basketball games times two since no game can be played without a second school. That gave me a total of 2,800.
Then I figured an average of 10 players per team, which I multiplied by 2,800, which is the number of teams I'd just come up with. That increased my total to 28,000.
To that figure, I added an additional 2,800. That would be the number of coaches for the schools in my example. That gives me 30,800.
That's when it hit me. Clive Hornstein, the popular basketball referee from Melvin -- who died Thursday from a malignant and inoperable brain tumor at age 52 -- came in contact with and influenced thousands of people during the 32 years that he officiated more than 1,400 games at the high school level.
Writing tributes about prominent people who have influenced the area sporting scene and passed away well before their time is perhaps the hardest part of a job that I otherwise love.
In the past, when these articles have been necessary, I've run across individuals reluctant to talk about the departed person saying simply that it wouldn't be appropriate to say something if it couldn't be positive.
For the feature I wrote for Friday's editions of The News-Gazette, no one was hesitant to speak about Hornstein and they didn't need to be coaxed into saying something nice. The words flowed from their hearts as soon as his name was mentioned.
Even coaches and former coaches -- persons known to criticize and question referees during the course of a game -- sang his praises.
I had so much material, from so many sources, it couldn't all be used. There was no need for me to share my views and offer the observations about the class with which he conducted himself, even as the occasional complaints were directed his way, and the congeniality and cordialness with which he always treated the bench personnel at the sites where he worked.
I am the writer, but others said it so much better. Clive Hornstein was more than an outstanding official. He was also an outstanding citizen.
For those who will always remember him fondly, that makes for a happy ending in a story which otherwise ended very prematurely.
I am a better person for having known him.