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Tips given for sports call-ins

March 18, 2002

The beginning of spring is always one of the busiest times of year for us in the sports department.

High school basketball season has just ended and, in some counties, high school baseball and softball have already started. Lacrosse, tennis and track and field are all close behind.

We receive an enormous number of phone calls from high school coaches almost every night during the spring season. The majority of those coaches have been calling in results for years, so they know the drill when they report their scores.

For the area youth baseball and softball leagues, however, this isn't always the case. Many times, coaches are only part of a league for as long as their child is a player. Therefore, the turnover rate is much greater than at the high school level.

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The most common line we hear during the first two to three weeks of the youth baseball season is, "This is the first time I've called one of these in. What do you need?"

So, for those folks out there who will be calling us with results for the first time this year - and as a refresher to some of the others who have called before - here are some tips for calling in results to the sports department.

- Have all of your information ready before you call. We have a limited number of people to answer calls, so we try to get through them as quickly as possible.

Chances are, if you have everything prepared prior to your call, we will have you off the phone in less than two minutes.

- While we will try to take your call quickly, we need you to speak slowly and clearly. Be prepared to spell every player's name for us. We want to be as accurate as we can.

- Be specific when reporting highlights. Rather than saying "these four kids combined for six hits," tell us "these two kids each had two hits."

- Be truthful when calling in results. Don't fabricate events for the purpose of getting a player's name in the newspaper. The achievement should be what happens on the field, not seeing your name in print the next day.

In the past few years, some coaches have tried to sneak bogus scores past us in order to "save the other team the embarrassment."

The funny thing is those same coaches didn't seem to mind if the other team felt embarrassed while their team was kicking their cans all over the field.

If the score is 24-1, report it as 24-1, not 12-8.

- Be timely with your calls. Most of the leagues in the area have a phone in the press box or concession stand or a pay phone nearby. We have a toll-free number (1-800-626-6397) so you can even report results on our dime.

Please call us the night the games are played - and the earlier the better.

We guarantee information from any calls we receive before 11 p.m. will get in the next day's paper. We will still accept calls after 11, but the results may or may not appear the next day.

We have deadlines we have to meet in order to get the newspaper to readers in the morning, so we have to pass that deadline on to our callers.

If you have any questions about our call-in policies or procedures, feel free to call me or drop me an e-mail.

Mark Keller is sports editor at The Herald-Mail. You can reach him at 301-733-5131, extension 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com.

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