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The spelling of names has taken an evolutionary path that makes it harder for the sportswriter.

With factors. like increasing ethnic diversity and a desire for uniqueness, names that sound alike are increasingly spelled in many different ways. It used to be that Amy was spelled A-M-Y and that was that. Not anymore. It could be A-M-Y, A-M-I-E, or A-I-M-E-E. Same goes for the men: Is Brian,. B-R-I-A-N, B-R-Y-A-N, or B-R-I-E-N? Possibly you just misheard the name and it's really Bryant or Ryan.

Sometimes people even decide to change the spelling of their names or their last name changes due to marriage, divorce, or religious choice.

Here's the point. NEVER ASSUME YOU KNOW HOW TO SPELL SOMEONE'S NAME. Double-check the media guide if there is one. At high school games, ask the scorekeeper before the game so you don't forget about it in the excitement of trying to track down interviews. If the scorekeeper gives the slightest hint of not being sure, ask the coach, or better yet, ask the player.

In high school sports many of the game results are called in to newspapers by the coaches. One girls' soccer coach I dealt with was extremely diligent, calling each game in, touting his team, and always mentioning his goalie. The goalie had such a long, difficult name that all of the sportswriters on staff always asked how to spell it and the coach always obliged, noting that it was a hyphenated last name. At the end of the season the girl was chosen for our paper's all-star team and came to the office to have her picture taken. By this time I knew how to spell her name, but I asked her to spell it anyway because she was right there. What do you know? Her last name was not hyphenated. A small mistake, to be sure, but still a mistake. l am sure the young woman appreciated that. I had asked and now it would be correct. The point? Ask people to spell their names.