Thursday, January 10, 2008

Always good to remember old lessons

Tuesday night, I covered the Myers Park at Ardrey Kell boys basketball game.

It was a good game and both teams showed why they should advance deep into the playoffs. Myers Park didn't play its best. The (Purple) Knights played well, shooting better than 50 percent and getting a brilliant 20-point, 8-rebound performance from senior point guard Kevin Davis.

Most nights, my job is to write about 350 words about the game and then another 175 or so about my observations from it. Most writers here love the observations part, as I do. It's a chance to stretch your writing legs a bit.

I look for weird things, odd things, fun things. Tuesday I noticed a Myers Park player tugging on the bottom of a Kell player's shorts as they went up the court. I thought it was an odd thing to do, but as the Kell player ran upcourt, he got mad and started pushing the Myers Park kid.

I figured the Mustangs player was trying to get the Kell kid to retaliate and pick up a cheap technical foul in a portion of the game Myers Park could've used one.

I wrote that the next day. I named both players.

I got a call this morning from the parent of the Myers Park player. She said some people mistook what I wrote about tugging the shorts. She said some people were giving her son a hard time about it. It's a tough thing being 17. It's tougher still when you have to deal with additional stuff like that. I get that. I've been there. I have kids going there.

I was pointing out an unusual play, end of story. Normally I'm pretty sensitive to not name kids when I talk about plays that went wrong or catches that cost games. I always try to remember these are kids, however talented, and they have tender feelings and loads of peer pressure. A lot of times when I do feature stories, I will leave out certain details to try to protect those tender feelings. I know how other kids can be.

In this case, I wrote what I wrote and that lesson came crashing back down on me. A Golf Channel anchor named Kelly Tilghman, who played at Duke, came under fire this week because she joked on air that younger PGA golfers should lynch Tiger Woods if they ever wanted to win in Tiger's era. She didn't mean it like it sounded. She was joking, but it sure hurt a lot of people's feelings.

That incident, and mine Tuesday, taught me an old lesson all over again: the written word (and the broadcasted one) have lots of power.

We should always be careful how we use them.

-----------------------------------------------------
Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Langston, I read your observations Wed & I saw what you said about the short. I didn't have a problem with it. The kid shouldn't have done it. i saw it too and as a parent, I thought it was weird. I can not understand how someone took anything out of that comment, but if they did i'm sure that kid caught h.e.double at school. you're a big man to come back and post this today. btw, don't worry about going to see ms veel at west meck. just keep coming back to ak. we'll take care of you.

Coach Sam said...

LW, good column here. I went back and read the paper to see what you talked about. Like the other person I don't have a problem with it, but this was big of you. respect.

Anonymous said...

I have read the comments and I have one response. I find both of them to be very closed minded. Dont be so quick to judge another person especially a child. Those who are parents should understand. The word weird is being used quite a bit and I might say unjustly. Before you pass jugdment ensure you are qualified to judge.

Anonymous said...

Langston, this is a very good piece. I think I get how you meant what you said. I don't think you were doing anything other than talking about a play in a game. I can also understand how kids can run with stuff. I'm a teacher at Myers Park. I know how kids can be.

Anonymous said...

Langston, I really want to hate on you and the Observer, especialy after the Ryan, then you go and write something like this. you a'ight w/me