Focus on the Family's pro-life Super Bowl ad featuring star quarterback Tim Tebow has riled up the blogosphere. (Catch up on liberal rage here, Sarah Palin's view here, and a counterbalancing gay-dating ad here). But for many sports columnists, the debate is overshadowed by Tebow himself. Far from dampening enthusiasm, the controversy has only elevated the Heisman Trophy winner and true believer in sportswriters' eyes. The result has been a slew of columns supporting the ad because of Tebow--praised in some places as a near-demigod--while ignoring the larger issue of abortion.
- A Courageous Man To ESPN's Jemele Hill, Tebow's ad is the bravest social gesture by an athlete in generations. "Tebow's decision to appear in this ad should be considered just as courageous as Muhammad Ali's decision to not enter the draft, or Tommie Smith's and John Carlos' black power salute at the 1968 summer Olympics," she proclaims. Worried the previous sentence might be mistaken for hyperbolic rhetoric, Hill feels compelled to ad, "No, I'm not kidding."
- We Need More Tebows "Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time," gushes the Washington Post's Sally Jenkins in a column chastising feminists for opposing the Super Bowl ad. Though Jenkins is pro-choice, she is also aggressively pro-Tebow.
Here's what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.
- Tebow, Tebow, Tebow No sports site has been more diverse in its support of Tebow than Bleacher Report. "In the next level of life, he'll be a brilliant success," declares Daniel Muth. "Tim Tebow has shown great courage in coming right out of college (right before the draft mind you) and standing for something," marvels Paresh Jha. "Get off Tebow's case," concludes Edwin Bear. "Let him stand up for what he believes in. If you don't like it, change the channel."
- Tebow for President! The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi--whose job is to write about sports--boldly oversteps his mission and places Tebow in the White House. "Tim Tebow will be the President of the United States someday," he states. Bianchi follows with an immediate rebuttal to nonbelievers.
Go ahead and laugh if you want. They used to laugh, too, at the notion that another charismatic, conservative former college football player could become president. You might have heard of him. His name was Ronald Reagan.
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time Not all heavy hitters in the sports world are praising Tebow. "There is a time and a place for serious crusades about life issues," argues Jay Mariotti at AOL Fanhouse. "A commercial during the NFL's championship game, our national holiday of fun and frolic and heavy drinking and heavier gambling, is not one of them. ... Just as you don't have a Boy Scout convention in a casino, you do not take sides on a volatile issue -- pro-life -- during the Super Bowl."