Reporters deserve yellow card, perhaps even red

Sometimes, I get a bit miffed at the general ignorance of some things that seem pretty basic to me.

Now I’m not talking about the use of the term penny for one-cent coin, since that use has been sanctioned by no less an authority than the Royal Canadian Mint. I’m not even talking about the use of the words quarter and dime. I know those are U.S. terms for what are actually 25-cent and 10-cent coins, but the term is easily understood, and both are referring to real money with comparable values.

No, I’m talking about the use of the word coin when actually referencing a medal. It just doesn’t make a darn bit of sense. That sort of nonsense reached a peak recently when sports journalists, who generally should never report outside the world of athletic events, felt compelled to write about the Dutch medal issued to commemorate Robin van Persie’s goal in the Netherlands’ 2014 FIFA match against Spain.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am sure that sports journalists are just as well informed and clever as all other journalists; it’s just that they aren’t exactly challenged by reporting on a pastime that makes every effort to cater to the lowest common denominator in our society.

At first I was kind of intrigued. You know you’re a geek when you see a picture of a what is billed as a coin showing a great moment in sports and think to yourself, “Interesting, they have the team logo on the obverse instead of the Dutch king; that’s new.”

Then I noticed I couldn’t find a value. Well, the Dutch do some different things, so I wondered if it was engraved on the edge or something.

Then I noticed that one sportswriter said the coin is not “formal tender.” Does that imply that it is a casual tender coin, or perhaps informal tender? Perhaps the author meant not circulating. I dug a bit deeper and found that the “coin” is in fact a medal, with no legal tender value at all, formal or informal.

Yet another writer felt compelled to point out that the coin “only had value to collectors.” Considering sports is a field where millions of dollars are spent selling jerseys emblazoned with the names of athletes to fans whose only real sporting effort is walking from the couch to the fridge and back, that did seem a little unnecessary.

I know I shouldn’t be upset. People make these sorts of mistakes all the time, and while it seems fair to pick on sports journalists, I have seen other reporters make the same mistake. I even dare say there was a time in my days as a young reporter when I may have done the same. But upset I am. Confusing terms that both apply to coins of the same denomination is one thing; not being able to tell the difference between a coin and medal is another.

If any of you think I’m being a little over-sensitive, just imagine the attitude one of those guys would have if we referred to the scoring in a baseball game in terms of the number of goals, or said soccer took place on a field, not a pitch.

Really guys, not knowing a medal from a coin, and using the term “formal tender” is just as silly.

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