Wayne Gretzky - Icon
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2006-02-14
Category: Washington Redskins News
What has the world of journalism come to when sensationalism has become the norm, and integrity has become optional? As a Canadian, I sit in horror as our Canadian media do their best imitations of their American counterparts, ESPN. For those of you not paying attention - that means running stories with nothing but conjecture and baseless in fact opinions.

Wayne Gretzky has stood at the pinnacle of Canadian hockey for the past 25 years. Having such a predominant placing in a sport that is so important to our country's personality has made him nothing less than an icon - and rightfully so. Throughout the 'Great One's' career, his off-ice behavior has been as exemplary as his on-ice ability. Never one to duck the press, Gretzky is never hard to find if someone from the media needs him. Well, until now anyway.

The alleged scandal lighting up the world of hockey right now is proof positive that the media have lost all integrity. They have taken a man who has given everything to his sport and to his country, and they have defecated all over his name for the sake of a headline. They have completely ignored the quality of person, athlete and role model that Gretzky is, just to try and sell a paper or two. There are a few commentators around like Don Cherry and Ron McLean that are doing their best to make sure that the general public know just how baseless in fact this story is, but there are even more 'journalists' out there looking to sensationalize a story that doesn't exist.

Rich Tocchet - now there's a man that the media should be talking about. The leader of the gambling ring has been granted a mandatory leave of absence by the NHL to get his affairs in order, but no such olive branch was extended to Wayne Gretzky. Do you know why? Because the league itself knows that Wayne is not involved. In fact, chances are that EVERYONE knows that Gretzky isn't involved but they just can't resist the urge to write dirt about someone who has never really afforded them the opportunity to do so.

Never mind that a police officer was heavily involved in the gambling ring, it's sexier to concentrate on the fact that the wife of the greatest hockey player to ever play the game may have placed one bet. They call the scandal 'Slap Shot' like it's witty and whimsical when in actuality; they're just belittling the involvement of the true participants.

In the long run... it's Canadians as a whole that have the ability to look bad here. Don't pick up a paper because it has a headline on it that you know is falsified at best. In fact, while you're at the newsstand, why not encourage everyone else to do the same and boycott that type of sensationalism.

The only hope Canadians have of seeing any light at the end of this tunnel is if they are smart enough to see past the rhetoric and the manipulation that the media are spinning and look to their own feelings for judgements. Don't chastise an individual because someone in the media tells you to - after all, that person has a vested interest in just trying to get your attention. It seems that in this day and age of technology, the onus of sorting through what's real and what's hearsay is on the reader, not the journalist. Apparently the journalist's role in all of this is to pen a piece of fiction with the paltry facts he has before him. Remember that.

In a world of blogs and message boards, you DO have a voice. If the media can't find a reason to stop sensationalizing this non-story... then do YOUR part. Don't propagate the hype, don't support the media outlets that seek to publish this drivel and voice your own opinion on what you personally think about Wayne Gretzky.

Because that's the crux of all of this... the media are trying to manipulate you into believing something that isn't true, regardless of the ramifications to the lives of the innocent.

Take away their self-imposed 'power' and just think for a change!
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