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When the Podunk HS scoreboard/scorebook is wrong

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by wisportswriter, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. Wrong number of team fouls, wrong score ... It happens occasionally. For some reason, probably just chance, I've seen it a lot more often this year than in years past.

    My question:
    During a game, if you see a clear error made that could potentially affect the outcome, do you say something? Or are we not to interfere, even when we're 100% certain it's wrong?
  2. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Formal answer: The official book is the official book, whether it's accurate or not. If that's what will be reported to the state/county/district association, that is the outcome of the game. Even if it's wrong, don't insert yourself into the scene. Observe and report ... that's the journalist's role.

    More practical answer: If you stand 100 percent behind your book, it won't make a bit of difference if you report a different number of fouls, turnovers, rebounds, etc., than the official book. If you're absolutely right, go with your stats. But if you have a different score, and you know you're right, that's a different situation entirely. You've got to ask a few pointed questions. Don't point things out in an "expert" capacity ... ask specific questions.

    For example, ask the visiting team (if the home team is keeping the official book) if their book matches the game book. If it doesn't, let them sort it all out and then report the outcome of that -- whatever it is.

    If it's not resolved to your satisfaction, you can always cover yourself by saying something in your story along the lines of "... including an apparent three-point field goal by Podunk's John Doe with 5:35 remaining that was counted as a two-pointer ...".

    If the scorekeeper is simply missing lots of stuff, you should ask questions of the home coach or the athletic director about it. Don't accuse. Ask what the scorekeeper's qualifications are. (Often, it's a girlfriend or parent of one of the players.)

    If this is becoming a widespread phenomenon among the schools you cover, you can always write an enterprise piece about how scorekeepers are trained -- or, more accurately, not -- and how it's affecting the outcome of games. Be prepared to have your own scorekeeping skills questioned, however, and be prepared to defend them. If you're going to say someone is wrong, make sure you're right.

    An interesting angle might be to see if your paper will spring for $50 to pay a trained referee or a trained official at a nearby college to independently keep score at a prep basketball game or two and then see how their book compares with the "official" book.

    That said, your question is a perpetual conundrum. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  3. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I ran into a similar predicament a few weeks back.
    Hometown High vs. Catholic Prep went into half on the scoreboard with Hometown up 22-21. I had 22-20. I figured I messed something up, so I went to check. Catholic Prep book had an extra free throw that he added because Hometown scorer had 22-21 as the score.
    I asked, he said it was kosher. While I was up there, Hometown assistant came up to complain and explain where the extra point came from. Catholic scorekeeper - who's seen me at a couple games - asked me if I had the same thing as the coach. I said yes, but don't go by me.
    They changed the score back to 22-20 and the Catholic coach didn't say a word.
  4. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Did you learn something about the Catholic prep coach? Did he add the extra free throw to his own book just because he saw it on the scoreboard and thought he could get away with it? If true did you lose respect for him? Kind of shady when he didn't say a word after it got changed back.
  5. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    I've approached the scorers at prep volleyball matches during games to "verify my stats" when it's clear the score is off because they're not paying attention. A couple of JV players, messing around, hitting the wrong buttons . . . typical stuff. I only did it a couple of times, and only when I knew I was right.

    Wouldn't do it for basketball unless it was blatant and a group of fans was screaming bloody murder. That's a sport that hopefully has more checks and balances as far as who gets assigned to scoring.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    In basketball, I would try to go over the book after the game if I thought there was a real problem.
  7. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    I've seen errors before and pointed them out.
  8. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    I keep my own scorebook because a.) I don't trust homer scorekeepers and b.) I don't want to be trying to copy a scorebook when I'm also trying to get postgame interviews done.

    But during a game, I do try to make sure my book and the official book jibe, and if they don't I'll try to find out why. A lot of times, it's something I missed. Occasionally, though, I'm right and one time it got a little testy. Two archrivals were going at it in a girls game, and it was pretty close in the second quarter. Home scorekeeper, and the scoreboard operator, just flat-out missed a field goal by the visiting team, and at the next stoppage of play the visiting coach came up to the scorer's table to find out why the score was wrong. He asked me what I had and I told him I had the correct score, which is also what he had. The lady keeping the book got snitty about it, until I pointed out in my play-by-play where she'd screwed up. She changed the score, grudgingly, but they got it right. Visiting team ended up winning by about 20.
  9. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Many years ago, I was covering a state tournament basketball game where this happened. Local team was short-changed a free throw in the state tournament. They wound up losing by 1, when they were actually tied.

    Ask both coaches about — only if you're 100 percent certain the scorebook is wrong. And ask the tournament officials. If it made a difference in the outcome, it's your lede. If it didn't make a difference, then it might not even be worthy of mention.
  10. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't worry about rebounds and assists, since they're subjective anyway.
  11. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    Good topic, one I've been curious about as well.
    A couple of times in close games, when I knew the scoreboard was off, I've asked a ref (if he/she was close) during a timeout or between periods, something along the lines of "Are you sure Podunk has 38? I've checked and rechecked, I have 37 for them." I don't want to interfere with the game, but on the other hand I wouldn't want to see any team lose due to a scoreboard error (like the type Inky mentioned) that I saw but didn't say anything about.
  12. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Coach didn't have anything to do with the change.
    From what I gathered, the home team had the correct score and when Hometown's scorer had the wrong score, the home scorer went with it.
    Catholic coach is a good guy and I'm sure someone explained it to him before the second half started.

    Even worse than matching the book is when a coach tells you a kid has 12 assists when you have him for five. Ninety percent of the time, the JV kids have no idea what an assist is and aren't paying attention for proper rebound totals.
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