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Posted: April 16, 2011 4:08 p.m.

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A perfect game makes the perfect story

Every sports writer who covers a team or a beat has a certain responsibility like any journalist to report accurately and without bias. Unfortunately, journalists are human and bias is an inherent trait. At a small paper like ours, we can get away with that because for the most part, we cover high school sports. That's why we tend to lob softball questions at coaches and shy away from reporting anything negative if we can help it. It's spin control.

Sometimes we are bound by our integrity and responsibility to report or write about something unfortunate like the Nick Collins situation at Newton last year. If I were a beat writer for the Atlanta Braves, I'd approach things a bit differently. But I cover your high school teams and I can omit certain things hat may not always paint a great picture (like errors or a player striking out three times in baseball games or turnovers in basketball games) while instead focusing on what the teams did well.

For the most part, I get along with all the coaches and players. Sure, we tend to like certain players, coaches and teams more. But for me particularly, how I feel about a certain person does not cloud my objectivity when it comes down to it. Not only that, contrary to the belief of some parents and coaches, I do try to spread the love.

The reason I've just waste two minutes of your life with this is because Friday I was stuck between a rock and a hard place after covering the Newton baseball game. While in the dugout during the top of the seventh inning, I was talking to Newton coach Ty Hensley and happened to point out his team not only didn't have a hit, but Newnan pitcher Brandon Dawson was throwing a perfect game. Now nobody wants to be on the receiving end of such a performance but as a sports writer, a perfect game doesn't come around very often, especially in high school. High school teams just aren't typically good enough to make all the plays needed to aid a pitcher with a perfect game. Inevitably, one tough play turns into an error, not to mention, high school pitchers rarely go seven innings without giving up a walk. It almost never happens. So when Dawson threw a perfect game Friday, it was exciting for me as a journalist and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write about such a feat. The problem is, it came against one of our home teams.

When Hensley and I were talking about the possibility of the perfect game in the sixth, he gave me a look and said, "don't go writing about it if it happens." Now he was only half serious and I've known Ty for several years and he as much as anyone I've built a working relationship understands my responsibilities. But I also know it wasn't fun for him. And he probably wishes I chose Friday to cover one of the other schools. On my walk to my car after the game I had similar requests from parents to "be kind" to the Rams in my story. So I did the best I could without sacrificing my integrity.

In the end, a lot has to happen for a high school pitcher to throw a perfect game. And it has to happen against someone. In no way does it represent anything more than a pitcher had a great night and things fell his way. Some might say it was divine intervention. A ball hit two feet this way or that way could have went for a hit. A bad hop could have led to an error. A close strike call at the plate could have gone the Rams' way. But none of that happened.

Look, it's no fun for me to have to write anything that can be perceived as disparaging or embarrassing to a teenager or one of the local teams. I'm not in this industry to do that. Some people get off on it. I prefer to bring smiles to faces. But the fact remains; the Rams were the opposing team on Dawson's greatest day as an athlete. Failing to make that the priority of the story would have been not only horribly unethical, it wouldn't have been fair to Dawson. After all, he's a high school kid with parents and fans too. Everyone can appreciate that.

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