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A picture is worth...

By Jeffery Armstrong

Now I'm not someone whose mouth gets him into trouble all the time, but from now on when it comes to youth league baseball, I guess I will have to keep my mouth shut.

I came under fire recently because three months ago, I told a 7-year-old youth league baseball player that he would make the Daily Herald's sports section for having a great game that night.

The kid's mother was upset because they both believed his photo would be in the paper. What I meant was that the kid's NAME would be mentioned in my game story, which is exactly what I did.

What's funny is that this parent calls the office three months later and my editor said she sounded like she was in tears.

She didn't see me, but she was told that I had a camera around my neck and that I took pictures.

Now, since I've been employed here, I haven't taken any photos of anything, not even scholarship signings.

I guess whoever saw me must've mistaken my press pass around my neck as a camera (hey, it could happen).

So the parent chews out my editor, saying that I shouldn't promise kids that their photos will be in the paper. Alright, then.

There is a lesson to be learned here and no, it's not the old Fresh Prince/Jazzy Jeff song "Parents Just Don't Understand." Some of these parents don't understand or have a clue, but actually I've learned this lesson. I realize now that I can't tell children they will be "in the paper." That is like taking an already drunk Tonya Harding to a bar – nothing good will come out of it.

When youth hear the words "in the paper" they think it means their photos and their names will be in the Herald or News Daily sports section the next day. And I can see that – if I were 7, I would probably think the same thing.

So I will have to temper my enthusiasm in the future, especially with the little kids, which disappoints me a bit. See, I'm the type of sports writer who appreciates the work the young kids (and the high school kids) do on the field, court, etc.

When the kids do something nice, I am usually among the first to congratulate them and share the moment.

If the high schoolers make a mistake, I'll joke around with them about it. I figure that since I work for a community newspaper, I want the community's young athletes to feel that I'm a part of them. I want the kids to feel like I'm an older friend. To this day, if I see some of the athletes from schools I covered in the past, they rush to greet me and talk to me.

Some reporters just talk to their subjects and that's it. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not the way I do things.

But from now on, if little Timmy or Johnny does something great in youth league baseball, I'll just make sure I ask them how to spell their entire names and go about my business.

If the parents ask me why I want the spelling of their child's name, I'll just run away quickly like Forrest Gump.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the News Daily and Daily Herald and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com.