Earlier this year Seattle Seahawks kicker Stephen Hauschka revealed the spelling of his first name has been copied inaccurately as “Steven” for about 10 years—ever since an error made in college at Middlebury before he transferred to NC State. It’s a simple mistake, and I’m sure already as a child Hauschka got used to people either spelling it wrong or folks pronouncing it the way Stephen Curry does (Curry’s first name is actually Wardell, after his father Dell).
Hauschka has said he doesn’t mind too much, and added you can even call him Steve if you like. However, history (and Lifetime Network) provides some cautionary tales reminding us it’s important to never forget what your first name really is—maybe especially if it’s Steven.
But then again maybe also when your first name is not Steven.
In any case, whatever Hauschka’s own indifference to the matter I find it interesting how many people haven’t bothered to update the spelling. Nearly every news outlet and reporter still refers to Hauschka in writing as “Steven”. A google search for “Stephen Hauschka -Steven” (you have to subtract the dominant spelling or the search engine’s algorithm automatically conflates the two—computers are getting more like humans all the time!) reveals that although the Seattle Times and a few other newspapers balanced the kicker’s “ph” for about a week in late October after Hauschka made the mixup known, almost everyone went back to the throwing the “v” shortly afterward.
Although the Post-Intelligencer and the Times each used Stephen at least once in 2017, “Steven” is still far more common in those pages. Meanwhile the Tacoma News-Tribune seems have never gotten on board at all. Only MyNorthwest.com, the web hub for KIRO radio, appears to have adopted Stephen on the regular—and even its writers occasionally used “Steven” as recently as December.
This is especially surprising for individuals who should know better because they covered the name story when it first emerged. For example, here is ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia spelling out S-t-e-p-h-e-n in a post in October and now here is Kapadia last week writing “Steven Hauschka” on a list of the Seahawks’ unrestricted free agents.
Unfortunately, one outcome of the correction not sticking is how Hauschka’s name is mainly spelled properly only in stories from the week he missed a chip shop field goal in overtime.
It’s easy to understand why the mistake persists, of course, even beyond basic habit. Hauschka’s last name is not so difficult to spell but it has enough interchangeable consonants it is at least worth double checking—so many writers just cut and paste or employ autotext shortcuts anyway for all names. In digital media, changing a proper spelling also disrupts the consistency of SEO. For example, SB Nation automatically detects names to write data links for names in stories, but doesn’t recognize the name “Stephen Hauschka” above because of the way Hauschka’s name is spelled on the record. For these purposes, it might be to the advantage of writers and editors to keep using the old spelling.
There’s also the factor of referring to the official Seahawks roster, which too still uses the “v” spelling. Perhaps that’s just because of the way the name was entered before the season began, and Seattle will have a chance to adjust it before 2017. Then again, as Kapadia points out, it’s also possible Hauschka doesn’t resign with the club. Does the inattentiveness to correcting his name hint at a disregard for retaining the placekicker? After the miss against the Arizona Cardinals, Pete Carroll insisted that Hauschka “is our guy, and we love him”. But it is also true that Hauschka counted on the books for 3.5 million dollars in 2016 and had one of his worst years as a pro, with inconsistent or low trajectory on kicks leading to a high number of blocks or misses on field goals and extra points.
Last year Hauschka cost the Seahawks about half as much as it spent on its entire budget for offensive line—starters and reserves. In 2017 Seattle might choose to use some of that money on a tackle. Or maybe it would just rather buy a vowel.