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Jeff Whitten: 62-17 and more real fake news
editor's notes

I got took late Friday night by a 62-17 score.

62-17. Let that sink in, in all its 62-17 glory.

For one thing, it adds up to 79. For another, I reported it – I wish I could say it was the first mistake I’ve ever made, but I can’t – and my apologies to one and all.

That said, 62-17 didn’t come out of thin air. It’s what I saw on Max Preps when a sleepy me clambered out of my recliner in the middle of the night to fire up the laptop and post the scores of local high school football games on our website.

The Richmond Hill score, which wasn’t 62-17, was in my email inbox thanks to Mike Giuseffi of the Michaels Group. He does a first-class job of making sure local media moguls like me are updated all season long on the football Wildcats, win or lose, rain or shine. This week his email rolled in around 10:30 p.m., and I posted the score with a short game summary at some point before 11 p.m., then started hunting online for a Bryan County score.

All of this of course in advance of getting superbly-written gamers from the legendary Mike Brown, but that’s another column. This one is about 62-17 and the aforementioned Max Preps, which according to the Georgia High School Association website has since 2012 been GHSA’s “official statistician and digital media partner.” I kid you not. Official.

Anyhow, it was around 11 p.m. Friday when I checked BCHS’ Max Preps page. The score said Bryan County beat Lincoln County 62-17. I said something like “whoa,” and woke up a little bit. It then took me a few minutes to log on, but I got it done and started putting together a short story based on the scoring plays listed on the site, posted that on our site and called it a night.

At 60, I need lots of sleep or I’m irritable. Saturday morning a good friend of mine who just happens to be a proud BCHS alumnus and former Redskin football player texted, then called to let me know the score was wrong and BCHS had actually lost a heartbreaker 23-20. He was looking out for me, you see.

I groggily fired the laptop back up and pulled the 62-17 story off our website, though not before our part-time web guru managed to post it to Facebook – where I’m told it drew the ire of quite a few people who, in his words, “saw it and slammed us” before he consigned it to the ash heap of internet history, or something.

In the meantime, I went back to Max Preps and saw the score on the Redskins page had been changed to 23-20, but the list of scoring plays I used to form the guts of a game summary were still there. Note: I’ve got screenshots saved in my email somewhere, if only to have proof I haven’t lost what’s left of my marbles. I didn’t have many to start with.

As for who did it, and why, I have some theories. Mostly, I think it was a prank, and as these things go it was a pretty good one.

Once I got over being hornswoggled and once again made to look dumber than I already am, if that’s possible, I thought of the great H.L. Mencken, who would’ve loved it.

Mencken, you see, got his start back around the turn of the previous century as a reporter for the Baltimore Herald and from what I recall of my studies sold more papers by reporting fires and horse thefts and all sorts of things that never happened. Fake news is fun.

Anyhow, I’m hoping nobody died as a result of the score and if one is looking for things to get wound up about, there are more pressing matters. War, poverty, the changing climate, all this blasted traffic.

By the way, I’ve been had a few times over the years. There’s nothing new under the sun, not even fake news or fake people.

Back around 2003 or so a travel ball coach told me one of his kids had signed to play basketball at a local college and I was given a photo of him standing over the kid signing a piece of paper at the college library.

I put together a story but called to get a quote from the college coach, who sadly informed me the kid tried out but didn’t make the team.

I immediately called the travel ball coach, who was even more surprised than I was, since he’d been fooled into making the trip to the school for a ceremony the college coach didn’t attend (for reasons that were later made obvious).

Then I called the kid, who said if the coach knew what he was doing he would’ve gotten the scholarship. He wanted me to do the story anyway because he’d told his grandmother he was going to be in the paper. I told him I couldn’t do the story, and afterward I actually sort of felt bad for him.

These days, he could’ve eliminated the middle man and posted it on Facebook like everybody else but me.

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