Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad: No Controversy

UPDATE: Via Ad Age, CBS has approved the ad's script and accepted the ad for airing. It is worth noting that the ad is not expected to be a "hard sell" or "anti-" anything, at least from FoF's perspective. I don't think this changes any of the analysis below, and -- if anything -- will create even more of a muted response from sports media and fans.

The key here was the spot's low-key delivery. Everyone assumed this would be some raging freak-out spectacle, like so many advocacy ads in the past have tried to be. Not only would that have been rejected, but I'm sure Tebow would not have agreed to do it -- after all, he has always been about high visibility for his values, but he has never been about the "hard sell." Original post follows:

*****

Let's talk about Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad.

You know: The one produced by Focus on the Family, featuring Tim and his mom Pam, referencing Pam's decision to give birth to Tim. It is, to say the least, controversial.

Start with this:

The ad is not going to run during the Super Bowl. I do not have inside information from CBS; I can only go by historical precedent. And, based on precedent, advocacy ads such as this one are rejected by the network televising the Super Bowl.

[Ed.: Obviously, the preceding statements are wrong, given the new information.]

That said: It will not matter. As we saw during the 2008 Presidential campaign, advocacy groups regularly released "TV advertisements" that would run sparingly in some tiny media market (if at all), only to gain wide attention after the cable news networks endlessly played them. It was very effective.

Similarly, the Tebow commercial will have extended life -- and distribution (if not quite as wide as the Super Bowl) -- by running on YouTube, where it can be obsessed over by everyone from political pundits to sports columnists. (More on that in a sec.)

So whether or not the Tebow ad airs during the Super Bowl broadcast, it will have its intended effect: Raising awareness of the group that commissioned it -- the point of any ad.

But what does it mean for Tebow?

*****

Start with this:

Participating in this ad is entirely in line with Tim Tebow's core system of priorities, which he has outlined consistently throughout his public life: Faith first. Then family. Then football. (Academics used to come between family and football, but that's not in the mix anymore, so I'm condensing it.)

That Tebow would make a TV ad or endorse a viewpoint that supports his faith (and, in the process, showcase his family) should not surprise anyone. In fact, it makes all the sense in the world if you understand Tebow. Even if -- or perhaps ESPECIALLY if -- it is the first "ad" he does as a pro.

A more secularly minded marketing consultant -- and Tim will surely have those, in charge of cutting his deals with the likes of video-game companies or shoe manufacturers or sports-drink companies -- might have cringed at Tebow doing an ad that would be so polarizing.

But to crib a phrase from the past four years: That's just Tim being Tim. (Tim's well-established value system is, in fact, at the core of his marketing appeal, particularly with fans who share his system of values.)

*****

Tebow is a master student of the powers of influence. Does that mean he totally understands the implications of doing the ad? Or is it something that he simply believes in so strongly that he will ignore any potential negative consequences? In fact: ARE there consequences, either positive or negative?

Here is an interesting dynamic to consider:

Sportswriters do NOT like to talk about politics. This is for a couple of reasons: Most sports writers are entirely out of their depth when talking about politics -- or any issue beyond the superficialities of sports. This is why sports columnists who moralize or try to opine on subjects of gravitas -- even related to sports -- more often than not look foolish.

The other reason is that sports fans don't like to see politics and sports mix. Sports is meant to be a haven from politics -- or anything else. They want their sports coverage -- and their sports stars -- to be apolitical. (At least until they are out of sports and turn into politicians.) The exception is for issues that transcend politics, like asking fans to donate to the United Way or relief in Haiti.

Interestingly, Tebow was such a powerful presence that his most public displays of religious faith -- the eye-black -- was, more often than not, accepted and celebrated by sports media. For their part, fans were mostly comfortable with giving Tebow the freedom to express himself as he wanted to. But largely, sports media didn't touch it. And that is for Bible verses -- let alone the complicated issues related to abortion.

So here is where the dynamics of Tebow's Super Bowl ad get interesting: Sports media really doesn't want to -- or cannot -- talk about it. At least, not without a ton of collateral issues coming into play. And I doubt many sports editors or producers want to attempt to navigate that.

So what happens? Do people talk about the ad? Is it referenced in a boring, meta, "we're not talking about abortion, we're talking about an ad talking about abortion" kind of way? Is it not referenced at all? Is it one of those issues that is hot in the blogosphere but all but ignored in mainstream media?

In sports media, that is almost assuredly the case.

*****

And then there is this:

Tebow has a lot of fans -- he is the most high-profile player in college football history. He is the most high-profile entrant in the NFL Draft. He has more endorsement potential than anyone in the NFL besides Peyton Manning.

Some of those fans agree with Tebow's value system. Some of those fans agree with some of Tebow's value system. Some of those fans agree with little of Tebow's value system. (Put more bluntly: Some fans are pro-life, some are pro-choice. Some approve of Focus on the Family; some don't.)

By being so public with his allegiances, does Tebow risk alienating the devoted Tebow fans who disagree with Focus on the Family?

I would argue he doesn't. No Tebow fan doesn't already understand Tebow's system of spiritual values. And those who disagree with any of those values came to terms with that a long time ago. No TV ad -- no matter how prominent -- undermines that.

(For my part, I have long-reconciled any differences between Tebow's value system and my own by instead focusing -- no pun intended -- on the commonalities, many of which transcend purist definitions as spiritual or secular.)

Might fans with nothing but a superficial awareness of Tebow have an out-sized reaction to the ad (or the news of the ad)? Very possibly, but it cuts both ways: People who support FoF will instinctively support Tebow; people who don't will instinctively dismiss him.

Again, I'm not sure there's a calculus involved in this for Tebow -- for him, it's a natural extension of his core belief system. I'm don't think he cares about people he might be offending, even if it might pain him after four years developing a very non-divisive culture of personality.

*****

Much has been made recently about Tebow that "the NFL isn't college" -- for example, he won't be able to wear messages on his eye-black. Professionalism comes with all sorts of new opportunities (marketing deals) and challenges (media scrutiny).

I don't think this ad impacts that, whether or not it ever reaches the Super Bowl broadcast. (Again: Even if it doesn't, it will surely find traction through YouTube.) Everyone already connects Tebow to Christian values, specifically of the kind promoted by Focus on the Family.

Even in the event the ad is not allowed on the broadcast -- even with a media backlash from FoF because of it, to gain even more publicity-- in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, fans will be focused on another showcase for Tebow: His performance in the Senior Bowl.

Again: When fans are thinking about sports, they don't want to think about -- let alone linger -- on politics. If they haven't exiled this storyline to the backs of their minds by the time the game rolls around, they will as quickly afterward as they can. They will go back to thinking about...football.

And at that point, Tebow remains the most intriguing prospect of the NFL Draft. Debating the policies of Focus on the Family? No thanks. Debating Tim Tebow's potential as an NFL QB or his worthiness as a 1st-round pick? Bring it on. Fans can -- and will -- talk about that all day.

(At the same time, Tebow will inevitably be part of an ad campaign for EA's NCAA Football 2011. Or Nike. Or Gatorade. These are three companies that excel at symbolism and myth-making. If you thought a montage on College GameDay was inspiring, wait until Weiden & Kennedy take on Tebow.)

But you won't hear much in sports media about Tim Tebow's Super Bowl ad. And cable news networks know that non-sports fans don't really know or care about Tebow. (The only debate for talk-show hosts will be CBS choosing to reject or accept the ad, no matter who is starring in it.)

*****

On its face, this ad seems "controversial" for an athlete, let alone Tebow. It's not. It is entirely in line with Tebow's value system. People entrenched on either side of the issue aren't changing their mind -- about abortion, about FoF, about Tebow himself -- from it.

And it is enough of a hot-button issue -- unrelated to sports -- that sports fans won't just try to ignore it, they will actively try to avoid it.

20 comments:

  1. I wouldn't say that Tim's pro life message is necessarily political. I know it is mostly a view upheld by Republicans. But there are many people who vote Democrat that also believe in the pro life message. How did a medical procedure that many faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) disapprove of become a political sign post? If Tim wants to promote the pro life/pro family message then good for him. But I wonder if he really does? How much of this does he do to make the powers that be around him happy? In the end what does Tim REALLY gain from this? How many women will NOT have an abortion because Tim Tebow did a PSA? I don't know. I am a huge TT fan and a Christian as well. I am concerned that he is being used to
    push agendas that might not be his. Yes, I know he is a Born Again Christian and he does not believe in abortion…but as a 22 year old man, is that REALLY a passion of is? I know he wants to make his parents happy and his parent's friends happy...but what does he REALLY gain from all this? In the end does it hurt his future endorsements? I like that his image is American Apple Pie...goody too shoes to the point that it's hard to believe...but I hope the influences around him don’t overuse him to the point that he cannot be himself and ultimately hurt HIM as a human being.

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  2. I wouldn't say that Tim's pro life message is necessarily political. I know it is mostly a view upheld by Republicans. But there are many people who vote Democrat that also believe in the pro life message. How did a medical procedure that many faiths (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) disapprove of become a political sign post? If Tim wants to promote the pro life/pro family message then good for him. But I wonder if he really does? How much of this does he do to make the powers that be around him happy? In the end what does Tim REALLY gain from this? How many women will NOT have an abortion because Tim Tebow did a PSA? I don't know. I am a huge TT fan and a Christian as well. I am concerned that he is being used to
    push agendas that might not be his. Yes, I know he is a Born Again Christian and he does not believe in abortion…but as a 22 year old man, is that REALLY a passion of is? I know he wants to make his parents happy and his parent's friends happy...but what does he REALLY gain from all this? In the end does it hurt his future endorsements? I like that his image is American Apple Pie...goody too shoes to the point that it's hard to believe...but I hope the influences around him don’t overuse him to the point that he cannot be himself and ultimately hurt HIM as a human being.

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  3. This ad DOES alienate fans. I love Timmy - even though our core beliefs are VERY different. I have always respected the way he manages to walk the walk and live his life in accordance with his beliefs without being overly preachy or forcing it down our throats. Wearing eyeblack as a symbol of your faith is one thing (and admirable) - taking a microphone and telling others what to do is a whole other ball game. It is disrespectful and arrogant and stupid. This is the first time I have ever been dissapointed in Tebow.

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  4. Yes, it's admirable until you open your mouth and actually state your mind. It's ok for other people to share their religious beliefs and convictions and it's ok to accept the filth and moral bankruptcy shown in modern media, but when a Christian opens his mouth, shame on him. Shame on you, Jaime, for thinking that him doing an ad is overly preachy. If you feel this way, then you should give the same treatment to the non-religious people that "shove" their agendas down our throats.

    For once, I applaud Shanoff on his take.

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  5. Being accepting of eye black is one thing; its relates to moral issues and religious issues. These things aren't as controversial as politics. They create controversy, but demographically in the South, many people would agree with that message, and thus not think about being offended by it.

    Rightly or wrongly, the abortion debate is no longer solely a moral/religious one, if it is at all. Its political, it divides people immensely in this country. One cannot take a public stance on abortion, or any genuinely controversial political issue, without expecting some backlash. Particularly in sports, which is, as you say, meant to be a diversion from the seriousness of sports.

    Tebow has every right to be involved with the ad and promote that message if he so believes. But for me, and I think like minded fans, I don't want politics mixed in with my sports. And I tend to avoid anyone does. And that will affect his marketability.

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  6. "If you feel this way, then you should give the same treatment to the non-religious people that "shove" their agendas down our throats."

    Curious, what type of things do non-religious people shove down others throats?

    And I'd also like to point out I don't necessarily find Abortion to fall on religious lines. I know people who are religious and are pro-choice, as I know people who are athiests and pro-life.

    I just always hear from Christians how they can't voice their opinion or that they are being oppressed etc etc. Try telling someone you're an athiest and seeing how much logical and fair responses you get.

    Don't really mean to derail anything onto religious matters. Just honestly curious, sometimes it's very difficult to put yourself in anothers shoes.

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  7. Well let's get out the jump to conclusions board game and start playing. How can you judge something you haven't even seen yet? Why don't you just wait and see it for yourself to decide instead of listening to all of the speculation. He at least deserves the benefit of the doubt with his track record.

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  8. "Curious, what type of things do non-religious people shove down others throats?"

    Global warming and the environment
    Meat is murder
    Homosexuality
    Governemtn is your best answer


    Do you want more?

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  9. Ummm I'm almost positive that the size of government and someones faith have nothing to with one another. But way to throw homosexuals under the bus. Lord knows there has never been a gay person that believes in God. People like you irratate me to no end. How did a Shanoff article become some referundum on theology in America?

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  10. Not the point. The question was, what type of things are shoved down our throats. These agendas are shoced down the throats of every American and if you don't agree with them you're a bad person. Just answering the question, Patrick. Also, don't assume you know enough about me to irritate you. I just pointed out what currently is being forced fed to the American people.

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  11. A great thing about Tebow is that he always has lead by example. He has inspired me to live my life better, and to do better for others, just because I see the positive impact that his kind actions have. Watching him, I have changed my life in certain ways. This was without him telling me, or anyone else, to act or live this way. His QUIET LEADERSHIP is what has inspired me and many around me to see past our ideological differences and act towards the same goal of charity, community, family.

    Tim has always been clear about his beliefs - he just never took to the mike and told me that I am supposed to believe it all, too.
    So, when he signs on to push an advocy campaign (whether it be pro-life or pro-choice or whatever) some of his message might get lost among fans who have beleived that they can look to Tim for an example of how to make other people's days a little bit better without adopting all of his more controversial views.

    All I am saying is that watching him live his life in 100% accordance with his beliefs, while making a positive impact on the world is SO MUCH MORE inspiring to the masses than watching him promote an agenda - religious or not. Its the PROMOTING, the PUSHING that causes the problem - because if you are on the other side of the coin as far as beliefs go, it might be realy easy to shut out the rest of his positive message. I just wish he would inspire by act, word and deed instead of by paid-for advertising campaign, since I think it would have such a positive impact on so many types of people.

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  12. [*I want to preface by saying I had no idea this would end up being such a ridiculously long post. It's in two parts (how embarrassing). I am really sorry!*]

    I am an avid reader of blogs, but I rarely comment on them. However, after reading your post earlier today, I found myself increasingly bothered by some of your comments. The whole gist of your post, actually. I think it is because you offer your analysis seemingly without actually investigating or considering the larger questions and implications of the issue. After thinking on this matter for several days, you’ve determined that this is a “natural extension of [Tebow’s] core belief system.” But what is the nature of this ‘extension’? In what way/area? And what are the implications of this “extension of his core belief system”?

    If he is telling the story of when he was born/his mother’s refusal to get an abortion, it’s been told before. Many times. And not just through media repetition (which he cannot directly control). His mother goes on speaking ‘tours’/engagements telling this story to promote pro-life values. Previously, this was always done in a personal, independent or strictly spiritual context (if that is the right word), which is in line with the old “Tim being Tim”/not a hard-sell approach. But this time is different. He’s chosen to tell this story again, but through an official organization and during the most-watched televised event of the year. The significance of these differences and their implication need to be taken into consideration.


    You proclaim that “No Tebow fan doesn't already understand Tebow's system of spiritual values. And those who disagree with any of those values came to terms with that a long time ago. No TV ad -- no matter how prominent -- undermines that.” You’ve missed the point (or are deflecting attention from it). This is not simply about his system of spiritual values. There is a new dimension now: he is aligning himself with a political group (even if technically ‘faith-based’, there is no denying the political motive of FoF). This broadens the scope of his value system from strictly spiritual to political in nature, and this raises the stakes in terms of his decision to promote those beliefs. Choosing to present his personal testimony via a political group, his message is no longer a “soft sell” of his personal values, it is now a political statement. And people are justified in interpreting his political intentions as being in line with FoF’s. In the commercial he may not directly endorse all of their political positions, but this is irrelevant. Agreeing to do this commercial through this group lends credibility to its mission, in all aspects.

    The political component of his value system is the crucial aspect here, in my opinion. The goal of FoF is political change. Faith-based on (Fundamentalist) Christian values, their efforts are not just to provide support for pregnant women, which is a very noble cause, but to influence/change any laws that they perceive to be a threat to “the American (Christian-Fundamentalist) family.” A woman’s right to choose [which Mrs. Tebow exercised (with impressive courage, it has to be said, since she was apparently risking death) in her choice to not abort Tim] should be revoked by federal law, according to FoF. Therefore, women who exercise such a choice would be criminals...murderers, Mr. Shanoff...not merely morally-depraved. Homosexuality is also a big, big no-no. Of course, this is a political organization, so homosexuals are not merely out of line with Christian-Fundamentalist doctrine, they should be denied the same legal rights as heterosexuals. (I say ‘denied’ rather than ‘should not be granted’ because FoF actively campaigns for a federal ban on gay marriage/civil unions in addition to opposing measures that would legalize it in any capacity.)

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  13. ...
    This is no longer simply ‘Timmy expressing his faith’. The end-game for FoF is state and federal legislation regulating other people’s decisions in their personal life according to Tebow and FoF’s ‘core belief system.’ Very big difference. By aligning himself with this group, his personal values converge with theirs. Therefore, the implications for sharing his story is no longer simply “This is what I believe, and I want to influence others by personal example,” but now becomes, “This is what I believe, and not only do I live my life according to my values, but all Americans should be required by law to live according to my beliefs.” In the case of his pro-life (or “celebration of life,” as they are spinning it to the masses) values, this means that pregnant women who don’t choose what Pam Tebow chose become murderers.

    I think this is a really, really big deal. I think that to downplay this, or try to distance Tebow from the FoF’s positions, is an egregious error on your part. You characterized people who are surprised or uneasy about this as having an “out-sized reaction,” and condescendingly explain that this is due either to their having “nothing but a superficial awareness of Tebow,” or to their “instinctive dismissal” based on a pre-existing opposition to FoF. My awareness of Tebow is not superficial, and I never instinctively dismiss anyone’s value system based on my personal political views. You fail to comprehend (or refuse to acknowledge) that there is another alternative here: a legitimate, informed concern about Tebow’s decision to promote his views through this particular medium, and a justified reason for being a bit put-off by it. This is not “Tim being Tim.” This commercial marks a shift for Tebow. It is one thing to promote one’s personal beliefs in the hopes that others may eventually come to share that same belief system; it is entirely another to promote your values through an organization that is trying to legally enforce that belief system on Americans, which ultimately would legally and socially marginalize those who do not share your values.

    His support of this organization will likely lead to millions of dollars in donations, which will be used to influence public policy. Whether he means for it to be or not, the implications of “Tim being Tim” in this case could mean women losing their right to choose, even if their lives are in danger or in instances of rape or incest (FoF advocates a total ban on all abortions without exception). With this commercial, Tebow is moving from influencing beliefs to legislating them. Your post seemed to gloss over this fact, which is troublesome.

    Your assessment of the situation in terms of how it will affect Tebow professionally or culturally (in terms of his popularity and fan base) is missing - or avoiding - the true significance of the issue. Your analysis, as such, is extremely superficial. Your closing statement that “it is enough of a hot-button issue - unrelated to sports - that sports fans won't just try to ignore it, they will actively try to avoid it,” is utterly meaningless. The fact that it is so completely unrelated to sports is precisely why, regardless of any larger implications, the commercial - and Tebow’s decision to appear in it - is inappropriate. But the larger implications should not be disregarded. The issue with this commercial is not about the potential consequences for Tebow’s marketability. He is using his marketability to empower an organization that wants to legislate their personal morality. The women who would become criminalized, the homosexuals who would be relegated to second-class citizens...you should consider how Tebow’s influence, when combined with Focus on the Family’s political activism, will impact *them*.

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  14. al said: "FoF advocates a total ban on all abortions without exception"

    That's not quite the case:
    "Focus on the Family opposes abortion under all circumstances, except in the rare instance when the mother's life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy."
    http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sanctity-of-life/abortion/our-position.aspx

    (Full disclosure: I disagree w/FoF's position on abortion & am no fan of FoF.)

    And, near the end of your posts criticizing FoF for trying to dictate how other people live their lives, you wrote this:

    "The fact that it is so completely unrelated to sports is precisely why, regardless of any larger implications, the commercial - and Tebow’s decision to appear in it - is inappropriate."

    Al, you aren't Tim's conscience. Tim's conscience told him to make this commercial, therefore, for him, it IS appropriate. Whether or not it will hurt his image/marketing ability in the long run is debatable. What isn't debateable is that nobody should be deciding for Tim what is 'appropriate' behavior-or deeming the commercial they haven't even seen yet to be 'inappropriate'-anymore than FoF should be deciding what is 'appropriate' behavior for others.

    As for Dan's article, I generally agree as far as the sports world goes. Within the sports world, Tebow's well-known, as are his values. And sports people-most of whom are male-won't want to talk about abortion or alienate his huge fan base. But non-sports media is another matter. Will this ad be discussed & debated on cable talk shows? Ranted about on 'The View'? Joked about by the late-night comics? (Will some smart-ass comic try to mine humor from the irony of an alleged virgin doing an ad involving abortion?)

    As for the ad itself, I haven't seen the ad & won't know what to think about it until I do. However, unless it includes a url or phone number for obtaining more info about pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, I can't imagine what ultimate good it will do.

    As for the FoF connection, I do think it's a mistake for Tim to be associated w/them, especially so early in his career. Being associated w/FoF risks pulling Tim into the cultural divisions in the US & causing a backlash which could seriously damage his marketability. And the less money he earns, the less charitable work he can do.

    Since I want what's best for Tim & his plans for a charitable empire, I sincerely hope he stays away from publicly stating his opinions on divisive issues for the foreseeable future. I think if this commercial is a soft-sell & he declines to comment when he's asked about other cultural issues, this ad & the FoF connection won't do much to hurt his image/marketability in the long run. But Tim's going to have to make a choice: does he want to narcissistically become yet another annoying celeb who exploits his fame to tell us all what to believe & how to behave (and gets ignored by most people, just like those other annoying celebs do)? OR does he want to do some ACTUAL TANGIBLE GOOD? He has the potential to make hundreds of millions of $ from countless endorsements by simply playing well on the field & staying the kind, conscientious person he appears to be off the field. Those millions, if spent on charities-including funding pro-life crisis pregnancy centers/hotlines-can do a lot more good than his being a public advocate for his faith or political views ever could. He's not going to be able to do both.

    Oh, and one more thing. It's refreshing to have to discuss whether or not someone in sports is getting a little too moralistic when you see what others in sports are doing that's making news:

    http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20100120/SPORTS030102/1200356/1079

    http://www.onlygators.com/01/18/2010/pierre-louis-expected-to-surrender-to-police/

    http://www.onlygators.com/01/19/2010/kiffins-confirmed-car-crash-furthers-allegations/#more-5646

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  15. 'Global warming and the environment
    Meat is murder
    Homosexuality
    Government is your best answer


    Do you want more?
    "

    (sorry forgot to come back and check up)

    You're just complaining about stuff Democrats push on Republicans. And I'd bet more than a few dollars that every single democrat isn't non-religious.

    I didn't word my question very well though. It was more along the lines of what type of stuff do non-religious people shove down religious people's throats in respects to their belief or religion. The only thing that even comes close would be the homosexuallity bit.

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  16. Brooke - I spent hours (seriously) searching FoF's website for their position on cases where the mother's life is in danger and could not find it anywhere! So I am really glad for that reference, that does ease my concern slightly. Thanks for doing better research!

    If my little e-novella came off as a self-righteous attempt to dictate T's conscience, that was an error on my part. I admire his conscience, I have the utmost respect for him and his values. When I evaluate the appropriateness of this commercial, in no way am I judging his personal beliefs in terms of his spiritual values. I am thinking in terms of how he chooses to express them and what the larger implications are. The line you quoted from me about the commercial being inappropriate was an attempt to refute Shanoff's glossing over (as I saw it) Tebow's decision to promote his religious politics *during the Super Bowl*. Doing a pro-life commercial is not inappropriate in and of itself. It is airing it during the Super Bowl that I think is less appropriate and, at the very least, this justifies sports fans formulating opinions about Tebow's value system, as he is trying to influence the value system of sports fans. I don't think Shanoff is right to dismiss a conversation (however positive or critical) about Tebow, abortion, faith and politics on the grounds that "sports fans don't want to talk about it," because Tebow clearly *wants* sports fans to talk about it. That's why he agreed to do this commercial during the most-watched sporting event of the year. He wants this. But there are implications beyond simply what *Tebow* wants and *Tebow* believes. This could potentially affect me. And I can have an opinion on it. And it is not because I am trying to be Tebow's conscience. It is because, for the first time ever, I am concerned that he might be trying to be *my* conscience. And make it legally binding.

    "Tim's conscience told him to make this commercial, therefore, for him, it IS appropriate." I think the key point you made here is somewhat problematic: "for *him*, it IS appropriate." My concern lies with the fact that, unlike in the past, this decision to promote his 'conscience' does not just affect *him*, this sort of political stance potentially affects the legal rights of millions of people. This is no longer merely in the realm of ideas and personal beliefs - he is taking it one step further. And this should be talked about.

    I think there is a very fine line between not judging someone for their beliefs, and failing to hold a person accountable for how their beliefs might impact others in society. In this one instance, regardless of the as-yet-unseen content of the commercial, it's message has been described by FoF as being about "life" and in line with their position on this subject. And their position is to change the law...etc, etc. So we are not completely in the dark, regardless of the fact it hasn't aired yet. The statement, "What isn't debateable is that nobody should be deciding for Tim what is 'appropriate' behavior" was absolutely true and valid in previous instances, but I don't think it applies here. By "celebrating life" via FoF, Tebow has opened the door to perceptions that Tebow-FoF are deciding for others what is appropriate behavior. It goes both ways. And people who want to talk about this should not be dismissed as trying to be Tebow's conscience. It is simply not true.

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  18. Okay, so I wasn't going to comment on this, but I just can't hold my tongue any longer...

    I've always liked Tim and I have appreciated how outspoken he is about his faith. I grew up in the Bible belt, but have spent much of my adult life on either coasts. I don't consider myself a hardline Christian, but even I have felt at times that I have been dismissed or not taken seriously because of my beliefs. It's like it's become a crime in this country to say publicly (not in front of fellow believers) that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour. It's okay to have a belief in some higher order or even to believe that a God of some sort exists, but if you're any more specific, it's like you become a joke. So I appreciate that Tim has never been ashamed to speak publicly about his faith.

    As has been stated, anyone who has followed Tim knows the story about his mother's pregnancy and probably could have guessed that he would be pro-life. There may be a few women/couples who are in the same predicament and they may be watching the Game and hearing the story may give them some level of comfort to make a different decision. Good for them.

    Ultimately, I don't care what he thinks about abortion or that he is saying it publicly. No one I know is going to change their mind on the issue because he says he is against it. As a result, I don't mind the ad.

    My issue is with him associating himself with the organization supporting this endeavor. I have to be honest, I vaguely remember hearing about them before news of the ad came out, but I had no opinion about them. After reading their website, I didn't find anything particularly offensive about their agenda, then I Googled...Their platform may be innocuous, but their actions are anything but. At the very least they are hurtful, at worst, intentionally hateful. I don't doubt some good people work for FoF, but the organization as a whole is the reason I get attacked for calling myself a Christian. They don't elevate the level of intelligent debate in this country, they avoid it by breeding fear and ignorance.

    I don't care what all this means for his marketability, I'm more concerned about what it says about his character. If he is not fully aware of the tactics they use, then I feel sorry for him. If he is aware, but thought his association with them would be limited to the abortion issue, then he should fire everyone advising him. And if he fully agrees with all that FoF does, well then I don't think I would even care to know him. In any event, I'm disappointed.

    You can hold has many sick kids as you want. You can raise as much money for orphanages as you want. But if you cannot love and RESPECT the person who is most different from you then it is all for naught.

    Now maybe I don't have the right to be disappointed, but I am. Athletes are only human and I am far too old to actually believe the hyper-marketed images put out by expensive firms and perpetuated by the media. I was hardly shocked after Michael Jordan's HoF speech, steroids in baseball and most recently, the Tiger debacle. I know better than to expect anything from public figures.

    But Tim Tebow came along and he seemed like a good kid. He's so open and unapologetic about his faith. He preaches to inmates. He goes off and circumcises kids on his spring breaks. He's saving himself for marriage. I have to admit that I started drinking the Cool-aid. Now, that I'm not liking the flavor, I have only myself to blame.

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  19. How can you say I don't know you well enough to be irratated by you? I was irrated by you in that moment. This whole debate is insane. This is a quasi-funny infotainment sports blog. The only thing this post has done is prove that religion is still the biggest hot button issue in the country.

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  20. I haven't read all the above comments; I just wanted to say I thought your original post was a good analysis. Indeed it seems to me that the Super Bowl ad has been downplayed, either not mentioned or mentioned only briefly in most Tebow profiles, and it must be for the reasons you mention, that sports writers rightfully avoid politics and political writers aren't so much into sports.

    Also, you're of course completely right that this ad is right in line with Tim's oft-stated priorities, and big fans of his must have known that and made their peace with it if they disagreed. Tim is big on not offending people, but he's also big on influencing people, and this ad seems to represent an attempt to walk that line-- it offered a pro-life viewpoint, but in a really soft, gentle (actually pretty corny) sort of way.

    I'm interested in the idea of him being a pitchman for major brands like Nike or Gatorade. He might have deals with some of those brands, but I doubt he'll ever be pushed as a major representative the way LeBron James was for Nike. Tim has wide-based appeal, but LeBron had especially strong appeal with young men who are into sports and want to drop $100 on a pair of shoes. There's probably more to consider but those are my first thoughts.

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