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Becoming the story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by RedHotChiliPrepper, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. I had an interesting, terrible and slightly scary experience tonight while covering a wrestling match and I'm hoping to get some feedback as to what everyone else here would have done and if I handled the situation correctly.

    I'm 25, been covering high school wrestling locally for about 7 years. Tonight, the match I was at had our hometown coach going for his 600th career win. Match ends up tied at 36. So as the coaches and official are going over the tie-breaking criteria, I hover around the back of the table so I can hear the discussions and make sure I have the right criteria the match should be decided on.
    Visiting team scorekeeper decides hometown team wins because it has a 6-5 advantage in six-point wins (pins, forfeits, DQs). Hometown coach, wrestlers and fans begin celebrating his 600th win. But the numbers I have in my notes don't add up to the decision made. I have them both with 5 six-point wins. So before the scorekeepers leave, I start going over my notes with the visiting scorekeeper to see where I screwed up.
    Turns out, both scorekeepers screwed up and the six-point wins are tied at 5. Visiting scorekeeper runs to locker room to tell his coach. Coach comes to gym floor, pulls hometown coach politely out of post-match celebration and they go over criteria again.
    Turns out they end up on criteria F (most first points scored) and visiting team wins, 37-36 on criteria F and hometown coach is stuck on 599 wins.

    I can't help but feel like shit about this whole thing because I feel like I became part of the story. My assistant editor told me to write a column explaining the situation to run with the gamer — a la the Michelle Wie getting DQed by the SI guy.

    So my question is, did I do anything wrong? Should I have done something differently? I feel like absolute shit because I've known hometown coach since I was a high school golfer for an opposing team and he and I have always gotten along.

    It just sucks because I feel like I didn't do anything wrong, but my head keeps telling me I screwed up.
  2. Chi City 81

    Chi City 81 Guest

    I don't think you did anything wrong. You only came to the discovery by trying to be accurate in your reporting. No harm, no foul, IMHO.
  3. There is nothing wrong with checking your scoring with the official book. It's not your fault they screwed up in the first place, and based on what you've said, you didn't go over there and say, "Hey, retards, you're all wrong and I demand a recount."
  4. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    if you actually only did ask to have the scoring explained, you did absolutely nothing wrong ... i mean fuck, you were the one who got it right.
  5. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Indeed. If you're just checking the facts and the methods to make sure you're right, that's not your problem.

    What would have been an issue might have been if you wrote the story, said the coach won and then proved he didn't with your own stats.
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    You definitely did not do the wrong thing.

    If you hadn't approached the visiting scorekeeper, you would have been in the wrong, not just because the mistake wouldn't have been found, but you also wouldn't have had the information you needed for an accurate story.

    I definitely understand feeling bad about the situation. I would for about two seconds.
  7. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    I agree with everyone here. You have nothing to feel bad about. You double checked your numbers and learned that the scorers made a mistake.
  8. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I'm impressed that you had the numbers right.

    Nothing wrong there, and it's probably a good suggestion to write that column.
  9. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    disagree about the column, henry.

    call the coach the next day? yup. column? not so much.
  10. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Keep the chin up, Flea. You're in the right on this one. It's your job to get things correct, and that's exactly what you did. The coach will get his 600th win -- and you'll probably cover it, too -- and he'll forget about what you did. He probably went home and talked about it with his wife, got a good laugh and decided he didn't want to win it that way.

    Everything will work out all right.
  11. Diego Marquez

    Diego Marquez Member

    The only thing you should have done differently is you should have checked with the home book (if it's the "official" one like it is where I'm from).
    This will not be the last time you keep stats better than those who are serving their schools. Simply bask in the amazement that the scorekeepers listened to you, acknowledged your questions and didn't simply blow you off because they kept the books and they are ALWAYS right (at least that's what one 16-year-old basketball scorekeeper told me).
    You asked a question to provide accurate coverage. The coach surely would want the milestone because his team actually won. Like Mike said, he'll get No. 600 and there will be no soap opera because of a scoring error.
    Also, not a shot here, Mike, but I think "he'll forget about what you did" does not come into play. You, and the scorekeepers, did nothing to affect the outcome. The wrestlers did.
    As for the column, that depends upon how important this story and wrestling are to your readers. Sounds like a big deal (600 is a lot of wins). Since you get along with the coach, did you get his reaction to the scoring correction? Make sure that is part of the column.
  12. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    What an asshole! The hometown coach should wrap a 9-iron around your neck the next time he sees you at the driving range.

    No. You did what you were supposed to do. If you can write a good column, go for it. But don't think you're obligated to write one just because you corrected a mistake.
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