By Jordan Doerr
Ben Mikell has excelled in anything to do with numbers ever since he was six years old. Over the years, he was always the best student in his math classes and had a special talent that manifested itself outside of the classroom.
Mikell calls it his obsession – statistics regarding anything to do with sports. It isn’t just two or three of them, either; it’s all of them.
“You can start by going back to when I was six. We had simple math questions, like 4 + 6. I was the only student to answer all 40 questions in less than 60 seconds,” said Mikell, an Oxford High School sports statistician. “That’s when I figured out, I can compute numbers faster than everyone else.”
Mikell knew he had a talent and he wanted to run with it. Since he was so good at numbers and loved sports, he started keeping the sports statistics on his own and would pay attention to every little detail.
This ended up snowballing into an idea he had one day, which was to write sports articles using the statistics that he kept.
“Back not too long ago, reporters used to keep their own stats and I thought that maybe a natural thing for me,” Mikell said. “When I write articles I find key stats that most people never think about. You want it to be about the kids, that’s what I base my articles on.”
Growing up here in Oxford, he decided to keep track of the stats in a community he knew well.
“Usually it is with Oxford sports. It’s fun to attend, but sometimes the coaches actually need the stats and I help them out with it,” Mikell said.
Mikell always gave the effort to try out for sports, but he voiced he wasn’t the best at them. He loved watching and keeping track, and that’s where his true love really was. He participated in sports until he was in eighth grade, he tried out for only one team – basketball. He made the first round but was cut in the second.
“I like reporting better than participating in sports. I was never the best player on the court or field,” Mikell said.
When he is not writing articles or watching games, refereeing is his next duty. Soccer is the sport he calls the most and he loves it because he knows the rulebook like the back of his hand, he said.
“Soccer is one of the sports that I know every single rule to,” he said. “I don’t think people can say that about a lot of sports. Even people who watch football all the time don’t know every single specific rule.”
What he really wants everyone to know is that you can be comfortable asking him any questions you were wondering about, even if it is not about sports.
“I have been in Oxford for 27 years, I know a good majority of the town and they can ask me about any rule clarification or anything along the lines of that,” Mikell said. I am always being asked to help referee games around the community and I am always glad to do it.”
“Ben always looks like he is having fun refereeing games. His enthusiasm for the sport is pure and unmatched by the majority of referees I have seen over my time being here,” North Mississippi soccer referee Michael Carson said.
At the end of the day, Mikell doesn’t feel like he has to make a huge name for himself. He is perfectly fine with helping out around town, keeping track of his stats and going on with his everyday life.
“I might do a lot of back door things for statistics, but I don’t care if I am not really remembered for doing those things. I just care that I helped people along the way,” Mikell said.
Mikell doesn’t even consider his job a job because of how much fun he has doing it.
“If you work a job that you enjoy and that you think it is fun to do, I don’t even consider it a job if you aren’t disappointed in it,” Mikell said. “I don’t care what amount of money you are making, if you like it stick with it.”
In the future, Mikell said his dream is to work somewhere in the MLB or NFL.