In which I own up to embarrassing mistakes

By Brad Salmen

ED Sports Editor

So I walked into the Enterprise Dispatch office last Friday to pick up a newspaper, where I met our new salesman, Jacob Wandersee.

We chatted about his position, the community, and sports (he’s a basketball coach at Watertown-Mayer), while I perused the Winter Sports Preview that I’d spent the last three weeks busting my rear to put together.

Jacob was midsentence when suddenly a string of bawdry words cut the air.

I’m not proud of that. I maintain they escaped.

I apologized to Jacob and explained that I’d just realized I sent the wrong team photo to my editor.

If you saw the team photos last week, you know which one I’m talking about. Six of the seven teams have the usual stoic poses for their team photo.

The gymnastics team does not.

Oh, I took a photo that matched the other team’s poses. But at the end of the shoot, I also took a “silly” team photo just for the gymnastics squad to enjoy.

Somehow, I’d uploaded that photo instead of the stoic one.

I apologized profusely to coach Alex Halonen, who laughed it off. And maybe I overreacted a little (sorry again, Jacob), as I had several people tell me they liked it and thought it was a nice change of pace.

But then my day got a little worse. I realized I also uploaded a basketball photo of Coriena Miller, when I meant to upload a photo of Katelyn Lee.

Just great, I thought. The Lees are probably thinking to themselves, does he not recognize Katelyn after three years of covering her? (For the record, Katelyn’s mom Jenny laughed it off as well when I apologized to her).

It’s the worst part of this job. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. If you screw up at your job, your boss may or may not notice.

If you make an embarrassing mistake in the newspaper, it’s there in black-and-white, and preserved in posterity, for thousands of readers to see.

It stinks because you might spell 999 names correctly in a row, but misspell one and you hear about it. And sometimes, it’s not even your mistake. I’m at the mercy of coaches to get me the proper spelling of names, and correct statistics. And let’s not get into the times I’ve had to correct their grammar in their quotes (I kid, I kid).

Bottom line, if you see an error, I hope you understand that I’m not singling out your kid or loved one by purposefully bungling their name or information. I’m human, and I make mistakes.

But when I do make a mistake, I also want to do my best to rectify it. So here are the proper photos, the ones I meant to send the first time.

 

***

That was not my only embarrassing mistake this fall.

Oh no, far from it.

I told myself I was never going to talk about this publicly, but I guess now I’m on a roll.

Let me preface the following by saying that I’ve covered literally thousands of games in my sportswriting career, and this has never happened to me before, I’m still not sure how it happened, and it will never happen again.

Let me set the stage. It’s the DC Charger football game at Holy Family. After getting shut out in the first half, the Chargers finally managed to score in the third quarter and spark some life into the visiting crowd.

I was sitting in the corner of the end zone, tweeting a score update, when DC kicked off.

The ball bounced to the one yard-line, where it was touched by a Fire receiver, who then went out of bounds and touched it again.

The rule states that if a player is out of bounds, and touches the ball while the ball is in bounds, it is a “kick out of bounds”, and the receiving team gets the ball on the 40-yard line.

However, if the receiver touches the ball while he is in bounds, and then goes out of bounds, the ball would be placed at the spot where he went out of bounds – in this case, the one-yard line.

And the receiver touched the ball while he was in bounds.

It happened right in front of me. I saw it, plain as day.

So did the photographer standing next to me.

So, apparently, did the nearest referee, who signaled that the Fire would have the ball on their own one-yard line. It would have been a big momentum shift for the Chargers.

But instead, another referee from across the field came in, conferred with the other refs, and awarded Holy Family the ball on the 40, much to the outrage of the Charger faithful.

For a moment, I was not a sportswriter. I was among the faithful. And I could not help myself. I said, “you missed it!”

To my chagrin, one of the refs heard me, stopped the game, and came over to the sideline to admonish me directly.

I have never been so mortified in my life.

Now, I think he was at least partially responding to the fans behind me, who were really letting the refs have it. But I did say it, and I deserved it.

I was most worried that it might cost coach Ryan Weinandt and his team in some fashion, whether it impacted the refs’ future calls or heaven forbid cost the team a penalty (apparently a few years ago, the Chargers were assessed a 15-yard penalty for fan behavior).

I’ve agonized about it since. I’m normally extraordinarily good about maintaining professionalism in covering sports.

However, I am also human, and for one moment, I got caught up in the excitement and made a mistake. When I apologized to Weinandt, he was very gracious and understanding as well.

I don’t know how to rectify that mistake, except to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And it won’t.

So for those of you who were at the game, and were wondering what that was all about, now you know.

(He did touch it in bounds, though).

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