Commentary: Tebow's Super Bowl ad illustrates silly importance we place on athletes

The Fresno BeeJanuary 28, 2010 

It's not that I want to dismiss Tim Tebow altogether in his off-the-field pursuits.

I'm actually quite envious. It takes more gumption to put your personal views on display for the world to analyze than it does to, say, scramble for 5 yards and take a big hit. (Although as Mr. Favre will tell you, that takes guts, too.)

And while we might live in a tolerant country in a tolerant time, when people's personal views and eccentricities are respected more than ever, when special education students compete on varsity and sports writers announce publicly that they are switching genders, there is another thing to consider. The spotlight is a lot brighter than it once was. The "commentary" comes from far more places.

The publicity, positive and negative, of Tebow appearing in a Super Bowl commercial has not scared CBS. The network will be showing the Tebow ad, which was paid for by the group Focus on the Family, and reportedly features Tebow's mother telling the story of how doctors advised her to have an abortion. She ignored them and gave birth to the baby who would win a Heisman.

Groups with views that oppose those of Focus on the Family are screaming that it's an obvious double-standard, since CBS has previously rejected advocacy advertisements. In these economic times, though, previous standards have been cashed in for a check that can be held without fireproof gloves.

And while I admire Tebow's gusto for his beliefs, it just feels misplaced. Not at the Super Bowl. In the arena of sports altogether.

Which is an odd stance itself, because athletes have long been heralded for their political stances, if not in their time, then eventually with time. Olympians with gloved fists in Mexico City. Muhammad Ali.

Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have been chastised for going the other way, for not trying to make an impact beyond sports with their fame and power to influence.

This feels different, though. It doesn't feel like an issue and a moment that so transcends sports, that the silly importance we've put on athletes and celebrity would be held mute in the wake of it.

To read the complete column, visit www.fresnobee.com.

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