So this one time, there was the coach that insisted they had the name spelled right less than three hours after the athlete’s mom called in to our office say we had it wrong all year.
Several times, we’ve had somebody report the first name for all the players, but not the last names.
We’ve had people report events four days late, prefacing the plea to put it in the paper with “I had forgotten about it until now.”
I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve asked a coach what their record is and hear on the other end of the line: (pause) … “Uh, I don’t know.”
But my favorite is from the fall, when we had statistics reported for a sporting event that happened last year. No, really.
Such is the eight-plus months of the year that high school scores are reported on a nightly basis to the Press & Sun-Bulletin. We have two part-timers who take information over the phone and then compile both the scoreboards that go online and in the paper and the daily roundup.
We know that the daily high school scoreboard is a valued part of the sports section. Because of its value, having a complete list of accurate results, with the correct spelling of athlete’s names is vital.
Since it is near the end of the spring season and the phones ring about a dozen timese per night, compared to the four dozen per night in the heart of the season — a couple notes that people may not know about the high school scoreboard.
First and last names: At least once a night, a coach will report a score and say they don’t have the first names of the other team. That hurts our ability to put information in the roundup and spotlight a player’s performance. Many times, if your son or daughter had a terrific road game and it is not in the paper, it’s because the home coach had no idea of what his or her first name is.
This spring, our part-timers got in touch with every coach that we had a phone number or email for, asking that a roster with first and last names be sent to our office. Of the 17 schools in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference and each of their spring teams, we got less than a dozen rosters.
On the phone, we ask to spell out everything: Smith or Smyth? Jon or John? Kristin, or Christin, or Chrystn? Matt or Mat? Because we hear from parents when names of their children are wrong, we’re going to ask for the spelling of everything. There have been nights where we will have hundreds of names in the scoreboard and get a call about the one that’s wrong. It’s not a good feeling for anybody in the department.
Email is good, phone calls are good, faxes are not good: We’ve slowly stopped using faxed-in reports because of the margin of error for getting a name misspelled. While not foolproof, the best way to report sports like tennis, track and field, wrestling and swimming — boxscores where there are lots of names — is by email.
While things are not perfect, the coaches in this area have been patient when spelling out names every night. It reminds me of my favorite coach call from a different market; a coach called in a basketball game, with her leading scorer getting 32 points. The first name was a combined name that was at least six syllables, and the last name was Ali. When I asked the coach to spell out the player’s name, there was a pause, then “A … L … I.”
I always keep that in mind at night.