What’s in a Name?
The Q Factor
As a sports reporter, I realize that there’s one piece of information that I have to get correct each and every story that I write. It’s more important than the score, the stats or the quotes. You, the reader, didn’t believe that when you first read it, but once I tell you what it is, it’ll make sense. You’ve probably already guessed it from the title of this week’s edition. The most important thing to get correct? The names. I recognize as well as anyone the importance of spelling someone’s name correctly when you write about them in the paper. My name is Quinten. But I’ve also seen my name spelled Quinton, Quentin, Quintin, Quenton, Quienten and so on. It’s usually pretty easy to shrug that off if you find yourself in a paper that covers you, but it’s tougher to shrug off when it’s your hometown newspaper. I get it. At my first journalistic stop in Rusk, I served as the sports reporter. I was fresh out of college and I wanted to make sure that I did everything perfectly. I wanted my stories to be fresh and new. I wanted all of my ideas to hit their target. I wanted my game recaps to be thorough. (Don’t worry; nothing’s changed between now and then. The drive remains the same!) I covered two-a-days and media day at Rusk High School, receiving the roster after the second preseason game. I went through all the players and asked if the names were spelled correctly. I was told they were. One player, named DeMario, was starting in the secondary. So I wrote about the upcoming game and wrote about all of the impact players. He’d had a solid season as a sophomore the previous year, so I made sure to name him. In the third game of the season, he had a game where he had an interception returned for a touchdown that swung momentum at that time toward Rusk. In my game recap, I made sure to write about DeMario’s big play. The day after that issue hit the streets, I’m prepping for the next game when I get a call from a very nice woman who worked at one of the nursing homes in town. “Hello, I just wanted to call and welcome you to town!” she said. “It’s good to have you here and you’ve done a great job on the sports reporting.” I felt good! I had a fan! “But we need to talk about something.” Uh-oh. “My baby’s having a great season and he played so well Friday, but I need you to spell his name right!” It turns out that the roster – and the school record, for that matter – had his name spelled incorrectly. He wasn’t “DeMario.” He was Damario. Fortunately, his mother got a great laugh out of it – she was barely able to tell me the above sentence without laughing about it. “We get that all the time,” she said. “We figured that you were going by the roster but it’s been wrong for two years.” These days, I check and doublecheck. If I meet family members, I’ll make sure. If I’m PA announcing, I’ll ask how to pronounce a name. I don’t want to get behind a keyboard or on a microphone and get a name wrong. It really does matter. Everyone wants to see their name in the paper or hear it called out at a game. My goal is to get it right every time. If I get a name misspelled, let me know and I’ll get it right. Believe me, your friend Quentin knows how that is. Wait. Quinten. That’s better. Please don’t forget that if you have any sports news that you’d like people to know about – from league play to outdoors to school events – feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it out. The cloning myself program I alluded to last week hasn’t quite worked yet, so I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.