Biggest Loser in Ben Scrivens Twitter Episode? Sports Journalism

Ben Scrivens, now in Edmonton, took exception to a story focusing on his wife, Jenny. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Scrivens, now in Edmonton, took exception to a story focusing on his wife, Jenny. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

In case you missed it, new Edmonton Oilers recruit Ben Scrivens generated some buzz yesterday when, in a series of tweets, he ripped the author of a piece on Canoe.ca who suggested that Scrivens’s wife Jenny would be unhappy at the player moving from California to Alberta.

 

Titled ‘Big loser in Oilers-Kings trade? Mrs. Scrivens’, the article (and let’s use that word liberally) sarcastically said that Mrs. Scrivens would have to “deal with awful things like fall, snow and ice” before lifting around a dozen tweets — “cherry-picked” in the words of the goaltender — designed to basically make her look like an empty, superficial airhead.

Its author, Anthony Vasquez-Peddie, possibly realizing that his credibility as a journalist was about to burn to cinders before his eyes, backtracked on Twitter shortly after, claiming that that the blog was “tongue-in-cheek.” But it was the last tweet that Vasquez-Peddie sent that really will have hockey journalists and fans alike with their head in the hands.

 

Let’s get this straight. Everyone needs to be paid. Writers have deadlines. Writers look for stories. But what this guy did was fish around for gossip on other sites, inject a piece of witless sarcasm into the writing, and then carefully select 12 of the 15 tweets used by the Sporting News (let’s not even go into that particular contradiction-in-terms) to make a player’s wife look as shallow as humanly possible.

That is not “levity”, Anthony — that’s a hatchet job, designed to generate bitchy misogyny in the comments section. That’s not sports journalism, it’s Perez Hilton idly looking for someone to portray as empty while keeping half an eye on TSN. It’s TMZ with a hockey stick. It’s worth nothing, by the way, that this kind of tabloid ‘click-bait’, as Vasquez-Peddie himself calls it, is exactly what results in strangling levels of restrictions placed on sportswriters here in the United Kingdom, where the idea of journalists being allowed into a post-game locker room is nothing but a wonderful dream.

Nonsense like this does the profession of sports journalism a complete disservice, to say the least. People wonder why players like Phil Kessel duck out of the dressing room at the first sight of a camera or microphone — there’s you answer. For the sake of hockey writers in Edmonton, we can only hope that Ben Scrivens sees the piece as unrepresentative of sports journalists in general.

Vasquez-Peddie’s replies to Scrivens’s attack seemed to generally based around the idea that he was executing a legitimate piece of journalism. Sadly, he was — celebrity tittle-tattle is big business. But he’s not a sportswriter and I hope he doesn’t claim to be one. Because what he was actually doing was a great job of chipping away at the trust that sportswriters need professional athletes to have in them, so they can do their jobs — writing insightful, informative and entertaining sports stories for real fans to read.