Friday, February 10, 2006

The Other "Scandal"

I'm trying to avoid this media maelstorm surrounding Gretzky, but how can you really, it's literally everywhere. What I find interesting, is the study of how a story germinates, then perpetuates itself and finally becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

The latest batch of news headlines surround the issue of Gretzky's presence detracting from the Canadian Olympic Team. "Game's Brace for Gretzky's Arrival", "Gretzky's Scandal Will Overshadow Turin", "Canada Hopes Gretzky Won't Be A Distraction", etc, etc, and then some etc's. Are these concerns a function of legitimate legal questions, public outcry or ethics? Or, is this concern simply a media speculation, that will become reality through their fixation?

I really don't sense any public shock with a gambling allegation. Truth be told, the only reason this form of gambling is illegal, as compared to other outlets, is that government doesn't get a cut. Is there really any philosophical or ethical difference between Janet Gretzky betting on the Steelers and Joe Blow getting his ProLine or heading to the casino? Whatever, I don't see criminality because the government doesn't regulate(code for rake it in) it.

This is just speculation, but I would bet if a poll were conducted, Canadians would overwhelming support Gretzky going to Turin and would favor a moratorium on discussing it until the games are over. It's the media that perpetuates this story because it allows for wild speculation, sorrid details and prominent players. It is staggering to listen too talking head after talking head argue that "this won't go away", as if they are merely a spectator. When they talk about the firestorm, it is within this vicious cycle that internally creates the controversy. A reporter rights a column on whether Gretzky should go to the Olympics, someone else comments and then an open debate ensues, when really the issues didn't merit the discussion in the first place. As far as I know, there are no charges, no one thinks Gretzky has mob ties, no direct connections, public denials, nothing that would necessitate someone from removing themselves. The "debate" is concoction, which gels into a warped legitimacy because media has an agenda.

If these games are overshadowed by Gretzky, it will be a function of media duplicity, wherein they promote a controversy, then take no responsibility for the consequences. You can hear the excuses- we didn't make this story up, there are facts and real questions. What a convenient out, to justify such license but then absolve the exaggeration of degree. The main story here is the media loves a story, with Gretzky's actions a distant second.

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