Should We Attack Tim Tebow's Stance or the Man Himself?

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJanuary 21, 2010

I just do not understand it. It’s what we say we want. It’s what we write about, talk about, and argue about. I am talking about athletes who do or do not take a stand on social and political issues.

So why is it that when an athlete does take a stand, we attack the young man and say disparaging things? Of course, I am talking about Tim Tebow and his mom’s upcoming Super Bowl commercial.  

Tebow and his mother are reported to star in a Super Bowl ad paid for by the Christian group, Focus on the Family. The commercial is likely to be an anti-abortion piece chronicling the story of Tebow’s mother's (Pam) 1987 pregnancy.

No player in the last 10 years of college football has been more loved or hated than Tebow. One of the things that the Florida Gators' star is well known for is wearing his beliefs out in the open, or at least on his eye black.

Speaking of his eye black, everyone has a take it, from ESPN to anyone who writes a blog or a sports column. Some of these writers lamblast Tebow’s eye black and the messages he writes on it, while others applaud him, and some do not care.  

There are two things I dislike in sports. The first is giving thanks to a religious figure for a victory. You never hear the losing team invoke Jesus, God, any other deity, prophet, or religious icon.

When I played sports I was always part of the team prayer. That prayer was not about victory. It was about keep everyone safe from harm and giving thanks for the chance we had at playing a game we loved.

As for the other one, I will be honest and say I do not like politics and sports together. I have never seen government do anything good for sports other then hold a hearing to push their agenda or make a name for themselves.

Think back, if you can, about all the hearings that have been held on sports and promises made by politicians about sports. We've even had congressional hearings on baseball and the BCS.

We had President Obama talk about a playoff system in college football and his views on other sports issues. Now think about what we have in sports right now.

Last time I checked, the BCS still named Alabama the national champion even though Boise State was undefeated. Plus, I just looked today and Barry Bonds still holds the records for most home runs in a season and in a career.

Fans also have fault in this whole affair, as they love their guy but hate everyone else who is a cheater or takes a stand on any issue. Just look at the New York Yankees after they won the World Series this past season.

Both Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez both admitted to steroids use and after beating the Phillies in the World Series, they are loved all over New York. Fans in St. Louis still love Mark McGwire and fans in San Francisco still love Bonds.

I will acknowledge that sports, at times, intersect with politics and religion. Also as much as I dislike politics and religion in sports, I know that everyone has the right to believe and support whatever they feel strongly about.

Now back to the issue at hand. Why is Tebow so hated by some when he has done nothing wrong except for beating your team?

Before I try to answer that question here is a look back at the last time athletes took a stand on any issues. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, African American athletes took a stand on issues such as civil rights, such as Muhammad Ali on Vietnam.

As endorsements and salaries began to rise, fewer and fewer athletes began to take stands. Most notably, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, the two biggest names in sports in recent memory, have not made a stand on any political or social issues.

We know that Jordan’s stance was that Republicans also buy shoes, energy drinks, and underwear.  What we did not know was that Tiger Woods was facing his own personal demons during his time in the spotlight.

The pendulum looks like it's swinging in the other direction with athletes stumping for Barack Obama during his campaign for president. There was little or no negative reaction for the players supporting Obama.

So we can have athletes support political candidates without fear of retribution. That is, as we have seen, if that candidate is a Democrat.

It would be interesting to see how a current player is treated for supporting a Republican candidate. Would the media and the rest of the country support that player or players the way they supported the players when Obama was running for president?

Are liberal causes the only ones we as a country will mostly hold as being the right causes to support. For years, actors and musicians have stumped for liberal causes and expect for the notable exception of Fox News, they have been hailed has having the right stand on issues.

Bono, Tim Robins, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney and more have been very vocal in their support of liberal issues and they have received little to no backlash. Meanwhile, supporters of conservative causes face more backlash.

That brings us back to Tim Tebow and his conservative and religious views. A lot of people attack Tebow every chance they get.

They attack a young man who has graduated with a degree in four years, has never been arrested, has never been in legal trouble, and has been nothing less than an upstanding citizen.

Tebow has never shot himself in a club, he has never driven drunk, killed another human being, or pulled a gun on a teammate. What Tebow has done is talk openly about his virginity, visited hospitals and prisons, worked with under privileged kids, and more.

While it is fair for anyone not to like the stances Tebow takes, it is not fair to attack the man for this stances. Would they attack Tebow as badly if he supported abortion or other liberal causes?

I am not saying I agree with everything Tebow stands for or supports. I am saying it is wrong to say disheartening things about Tebow the person.

Tebow the person is what everyone should be like. Take away the religious views and follow me.

Everyone should give back to those less fortunate then themselves. Everyone should, if they have a story to share, talk to prisoners.

Everyone should travel to poorer countries to speak and give support. Not just after a tragedy like in Haiti, but all the time.

Everyone should be a shining example of what we could be in a world that seems to feed on negatively and scandals. Everyone should have principles and stick to them no matter what anyone thinks.

Everyone should try to be a decent human being. Everyone should try to inspire others to try to be a better person and to do more.

Tim Tebow does all these things and more. Sure, his is because of his deep religious faith, but that doesn't mean that you have to have that faith to do the same things.

Tebow might seem to be too good to be true, but until Tebow proves us wrong, let's hold up a person that shows us what we can be as a human race.

It is perfectly alright to attack the stances Tebow takes if you disagree, but to attack the man himself makes no sense. In a sports world where players are entitled, spoiled, and act above the law, a person like Tebow is a refreshing change.

Most seem to think that Tebow’s Super Bowl ad will make it open season on abortion doctors. I will say this—did Ali’s stance on Vietnam lead to more dissent and violence over the war?

As when Ali took his stance then and when Tebow takes his stance today, there will always be those people who take a belief too far. Taking a stance does not mean you are condoning illegal and immoral acts.

We want our athletes to take stands on political and social issues. We want them to speak out about what they feel strongly about.

More athletes might speak out if they knew they would not be personally attacked for their beliefs. They cannot be upset if people disagree with their stance but they should be able to speak out without being attacked personally.

We as media and fans need to decide what we really want. Do we want our athletes to be like Jordan and Woods, or do we want our athletes to take stands no matter how controversial and unpopular they might be without fear of personal attacks? We need to decide and we need to decide now.


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