Wemple: Another quote from the same scene: “Did you see that kid Mohammed? … No, the other Mohammed. His academics aren’t strong, but his squash is unbelievable.” That’s from a parent in the bleachers at the tournament. First off, no one with the name Mohammed was registered to compete in that tournament [clublocker.com]. And second, what’s supposed to be the point of this?
Following its own investigation, The Atlantic has clarified my description of Sloane’s daughter’s leg injury, changing the “deep gash” to “a skin rupture that bled through a fencing uniform.” I will leave it to readers to decide whether this edit materially changes the piece.
My response: Georgetown University does not have a varsity squash team and does not recruit for squash. I’d assumed the parent in question was discussing recruiting prospects for another sport, perhaps a sibling’s sport.
In emails to me and to my editors, Wemple initially stated that he had a source who told him that the leg injury never happened. He asked if we had copies of Sloane’s daughter’s medical records that we could provide to him as proof.
The parents on the Chelsea Piers squash bleachers had kids who played multiple sports; I overheard talk of tennis, crew and Chelsea Piers versus Greenwich Aquatics water polo. I included this quote to try to capture the flavor of dialogue on the junior-squash sidelines and the intensely competitive culture that permeates all of these sports.
While fencing on the whole is a safe, highly regulated sport, it’s not unusual for young fencers to sustain neck bruises, leg cuts, and other blunt sword-tip injuries. There are multiple accounts of such injuries on online fencing forums and message boards.
The piece does not contend that Sloane’s daughter sustained a “cut in the throat.” I describe the injury as a “stab,” a “jab,” a “wound” inflicted by a saber fencing blade that slipped under a protective bib. Generally, a non-penetrating wound is accompanied by bruising. Sloane had described her daughter’s injury as a hard jab to the throat with a saber fencing blade that resulted in “a giant purple, swollen golf ball on the side of the neck” next to the carotid artery.
In its Editor’s Note, The Atlantic states that it has “clarified a detail about a neck injury sustained by Sloane’s middle daughter, to be more precise about its severity.” I had based my description of Sloane’s daughter’s injury on Sloane’s account of what happened that day — an account which she subsequently repeated to the magazine’s fact-checker. The Atlantic’s clarification does not materially change the nature of the injury.
Wemple: I have confirmed that there was no cut in the throat of the 12-year-old girl; can you confirm on the record that there was not a cut to the skin and only a bruise?
“It happened before. [Sloane’s daughter] comes home with this huge gash on her leg. There’s a gash on one leg. There [are] bruises and gashes on another leg, blood coming out through her pants.”
Georgetown University offers a club team; Columbia University has one of the most competitive varsity squash programs in the United States [csasquash.com]. So the question here relates to plausibility: How could a club program “go cold” on a squash prospect, while the prospect has a shot at making one of the best teams in the country? I know this is just overheard stuff, but if it’s this disjointed, why publish it, and isn’t there grounds here to question it?
My response: In the fourth paragraph of my story, I note that Sloane’s daughter had “been hurt before while fencing — on one occasion gashed so deeply in the thigh that blood seeped through her pants.”
Wemple: The story reports this scene at a Chelsea Piers squash tournament: “When the break was over, the conversation in the bleachers turned to college prospects. ‘Georgetown has gone cold,’ a parent said. ‘But he may get the last spot at Columbia.’”
My response: Here, Wemple is stating that he’s tracked down Sloane — and that he believes I’ve mischaracterized a saber-fencing throat injury sustained by her 12-year-old daughter at Junior Fencing Nationals.
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