If a broadcast is going to show a fan on the screen and identify them, it’s important to get that identification right. That hasn’t always been the case, though, including a 2019 Monumental Sports Network WNBA broadcast showing “Markelle Fultz and his mom” (it wasn’t them) in the stands. The latest example of this comes from a CBS NWSL broadcast Saturday of the OL Reign-NC Courage match, which included a halftime feature on Courage forward Jessica McDonald and her nine-year-old son Jeremiah…but identified an unrelated fan in the stands as Jeremiah. That prompted this tweet from McDonald Sunday:
Honored to have been featured at halftime on @CBS but this isn’t even my son. Not sure who’s responsible for pointing out some random black kid in the stands. But this is NOT OK!!!!!! This poor kid looks ssooo uncomfortable…. ?? pic.twitter.com/TLDV2YMZUE
— Jessica McDonald (@J_Mac1422) June 21, 2021
While this aired on CBS, it was a league-produced broadcast. NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird apologized publicly on Twitter Monday:
I am deeply apologetic for the misidentification made during the match on Saturday in North Carolina that was produced by the NWSL. I sincerely apologize to @J_Mac1422 and her son Jeremiah, as well as the young boy in the camera shot and his family for our mistake.
— Lisa Baird (@lisainog) June 21, 2021
As per Alex Andrejev of The (Raleigh) News & Observer, Baird also sent a private personal apology note to McDonald Sunday. So that does feel like a good response from the commissioner, and it is notable that the apologies here came from the commissioner, not some vice-president or someone on the broadcast crew. But this is still a bad mistake, especially with it coming on Juneteenth and coming as part of a feature intended to spotlight McDonald and her son (it included pre-recorded interviews with both of them). And it’s worth keeping in mind as another reason to be extremely careful with these kinds of on-broadcast identifications.
Correction: we initially got the team the Courage were playing wrong. It’s the OL Reign, not the Orlando Reign, and they’re based in Washington.