The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kevin Wilson
Managing editor 

Intent letter signings no-go for photos

 

April 15, 2018



Whenever local athletes sign on to play college sports, I try to give them the same initial questions so the process is easier for them.

What other schools were you considering? What convinced you to pick this school? Was there a point you realized you had a chance to play at the college level?

I get the same initial question too from somebody at each ceremony. Where’s your camera?

When it comes to letter-of-intent ceremonies, the camera usually stays in the office or my living room. I brought only a notebook to the most recent ceremony I covered at Clovis High School.

Both Connor Langrell and Jace Piepkorn of the CHS baseball team were signing with Division II Newman University on Wednesday. Once a letter is signed and delivered to the coach, that player is obligated to play there next season. It’s sometimes the first binding document a kid signs.

I got to the ceremony early, and asked both signees, “Did you already sign your letter of intent this morning?”

Connor already signed and emailed his letter to Newman. Jace had not signed anything, and would do so during the ceremony.

I joked there was still time for a WWE-style double cross.

“Jace Piepkorn is about to join Connor Langrell and sign with Newman ... wait a minute, what’s going on??? That’s the ENMU fight song. Oh no, here comes Piepkorn with the chair.”

There were no double-crosses; just cookies and cupcakes and teammates just as happy to skip 15 minutes of class as they were to say congratulations.

Here’s why I don’t take photos of these things, or publish them in the paper: The majority of athletes at those ceremonies are Connor Langrells, who signed letters and sent them off hours before the ceremony. But the ceremonies operate on the premise everybody is Jace Piepkorn — photographed signing the letter that still has to be faxed to his future college coach before it’s official.

I’ve run the photos before, and those errors have helped form my decision in this area. The problem with running those photos is two-fold:

First, was the kid signing for real in the first picture by himself? Or the one with family? Or coaches? Or teammates? Or the one I liked the best?

Second, was it even a letter of intent? I’ve frequently seen athletes signing blank pieces of paper, and one player even told me, “It was just some T-shirt order form.”

When I go back to the office, I’ve got to tell the thousands of readers who weren’t there, “This is a photo of an athlete signing a letter of intent,” knowing at least one thing in that sentence isn’t true. If I’m willing to lie about that, and people are comfortable with me lying about that, where do we draw the line on comfort?

My concern is about the people who are making that next step. That’s where the reporting should focus, not the T-shirt order form that’s as much a prop as the balloons and cookies.

Kevin Wilson is managing editor of The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at: kwilson@thenews.email

 

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