What's in a name

May 02, 2002|BY DAN KAUFFMAN

For the last week, one question keeps popping up over and over again in my head.

How in the world did I type "Michelle" instead of "McKenzie"?

A quick recap ... on April 20, I covered the Charas Heurich Smithsburg Invitational track meet, where North Hagerstown distance runner McKenzie Fox won both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs impressively.

After the meet, I went back to the office and filed my story.

(I also typed up the results ... typing track results is the single most annoying thing any of the five of us do in the office. It's monotonous, it's boring ... it's simply no fun. Most of the time, I enjoy writing track stories. But typing up the results? No. Now where was I? Oh yeah ...)

Then I went home, and since I had the next four days off (using them to recover from typing the results, heh heh), I didn't think any of it.


When I went back to work, I checked my e-mail, in which there was a mail from McKenzie's mom saying I mistakenly called her daughter Michelle (For the record, her teammate, Stephanie Kurtz, also wrote).

I found the article in question, and sure enough, mom was right. (Mom is always right. Remember that, kids.)

Now, I can't speak for anyone else ... but when I make a mistake like that, it haunts me for at least a couple of days. This one bugged me worse, because it wasn't just the misspelling of a name, but a completely different name altogether.

I can't recall a single time I've ever called McKenzie Michelle when talking track with anyone. I sure as heck don't know how my fingers typed Michelle. But they did.

Mistakes happen, and all of us are guilty. We'd all like to be able to say we put out a clean product on a daily basis, but with deadlines to hit and stories in sports arriving every night as the deadline looms, errors make it to print all the time. Most of them are simple typos or grammatical mistakes, but a few - like my misidentification - are somewhat worse.

That being said, none of us like it when a mistake does get through. To a man, we've all had nights where we found out we goofed the previous day, and usually this newfound awareness leads to a few choice words and, in rare moments of angry comedy, a head bashing against the metal door of our overhead compartments (lovingly known as "bread boxes") and, in even rarer moments, leaving dents. (This means you, Al.)

Like I said, mistakes happen ... and we hate them about as much as our readers do.

So, to McKenzie Fox, her family and her teammates, I apologize publicly for my faux-pas. And to McKenzie ... I promise you, I won't call you Michelle at Friday afternoon's Monocacy Valley Athletic League championships. I'll call you Melissa instead.

That's a joke. No, really. You can laugh. I beg you to laugh. ...

n Kwame Brown's 120 mile-per-hour speeding ticket in a 60-mph construction zone will cost him a slap on the wrist, five negative paragraphs on Page 2 of Tuesday's Morning Herald sports section (and mentions in various other newspapers), and nothing else.

A slap on the wrist, after all, is what a $1,200 bail posting, the fine on the ticket and the loss of a license is to an NBA player making upward of $3 million per year.

The bail and fine is pocket change, and Kwame can hire a chauffeur in all of 30 seconds. And when it comes to NBA players making bad decisions, a speeding ticket pales in comparison to drug arrests and, say, choking your coach. So five paragraphs on Page 2 is all the story warrants.

The Washington Wizards may tell Kwame, who is all of 20, to make better decisions. Kwame may listen. The Wizards probably won't take any other action, nor would any other professional team.

Never mind that, if the police reports are correct, Kwame put the life of himself and anybody else on the road in danger. In the world of superstar athletes, we're used to irresponsible behavior. In these times, mistakes such as the one police say Kwame made are not just ignored by teams, they're also accepted.

Did athletes like Kwame learn anything from the tragic death of Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills, who perished while racing a teammate at 100 mph?

I guess not.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at or 301-733-5131 ext. 2334.

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