The Story Of One Of Journalism’s Worst Days Ever

I don’t mean to alarm any of you, but believe it or not, the media makes mistakes. In spite of the high standards they’re justifiably held to, reporters are, at the end of the day, just as human as the rest of us. Sometimes their mistakes are pretty funny and when the eventual correction is issued we all have a nice, hearty laugh. But what happens when things go terribly, profanely wrong? The kind of wrong that sees things fail on every conceivable level? Sometimes, it’s this.

The headline, INEXPERIENCE FACES GREEN WAVE SOCCER, suggests nothing beyond some sort of small-town newspaper sports preview story, and the byline (Nick DeLeonibus) is that of a name that rings unfamiliar to most. Upon closer inspection, you can ascertain that the piece appeared in the Gallatin (Tenn.) News Examiner in the winter of 1997.
“With March 11th quickly approaching,” it begins, “Gallatin soccer head coach Rufus Lassiter wants to take things day-by-day.”
The ensuing 10 paragraphs add little to explain why anyone would want to read. Even now, two decades after publication, much of the article reads as flatly as it surely did on the Friday it hit newsstands. Like many of its ilk, this is an article written primarily for the 20 or so members of the Gallatin High boys soccer team and their families. It exists so that, when they ultimately have children and grandchildren of their own, Daniel Sanders and Randall Carter and Michael McRae and the other Green Wave players can blow dust off the ol’ scrapbook and say, “See, I was once something…”
The information provided is standard local fare. Coming off a mediocre 7-7-2 season, the Green Wave of 1997 will likely struggle even more with the loss of seven seniors. Sanders and Carter will split time in goal, but at least Lassiter will have five veterans to turn to. There’s McRee, there’s Farrell, there’s Sparkman and Watson and, of course, there’s Bubba Dixon.

Writes DeLeonibus in the tenth paragraph: “Sparkman started last year and will be back on defense. He plays a very physical, tough-nosed brand of soccer.”
Yawn.
Writes DeLeonibus in the eleventh paragraph: “Watson started last year as a defensive player. He works very hard and has good speed.”
Yawn.
Writes DeLeonibus in the twelfth paragraph: “Dixon sucks donkey dicks and doesn’t wipe the shit off before practice. We like to keep him at the sweeper position so his sperm breath will stop people from penetrating to the goal. Speaking of penetrating, he prefers tall, red-headed guys. Told me to tell Kris he said ‘hello.’”
Wait.
What?
What?

What follows is the story of how something like that came to be plastered all over thousands of copies of a local newspaper and the fallout that resulted. Lawsuits, redemption, stupidity, death and so much more. It’s a fascinating article, well worth it if you don’t mind a bit of profanity (let’s face it, you’re here so you don’t) and have some time to kill on a fine piece of writing.

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