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Point-Counterpoint: Tim Tebow’s controversial Super Bowl ad

<ong>Tebow should not participate in anti-abortion Super Bowl ad

By David Sacks

Tim Tebow is a special person and a special player. When he came into college football, I wanted to hate him. I thought he was a fraud, someone who pretended to be a devoted Christian and wrote biblical passages on his eye black for games just for attention. However, after watching him for four years and reading about his work in the community and with his church, I know that he is sincere.

I also know that he feels especially close to the issue of abortion, as a doctor recommended that his mother, Pam, receive an abortion because her fetus was in danger. She refused to have an abortion, and instead gave birth to someone who by all accounts is a stand-up person and the best college football player of all time. The anti-abortion ad that is expected to air during the Super Bowl featuring Tebow and his mother will be powerful no matter one’s political persuasion. However, Tebow should be careful; participating in this ad could potentially be harmful his later career.

While Tebow has every right to stand up for and speak out about his beliefs, he should be cognizant of the organization that is sponsoring this ad. Focus on the Family is a far-right organization, founded by James Dobson, who once said that gay marriage will “destroy the earth.” While the organization does do many charitable and beneficial things in various communities, there is an aspect of the organization that is very much out of the mainstream, even among conservative Christians. For example, the organization is against any type of gambling, even though it is not prohibited anywhere in the Bible.

As Tebow becomes the face of Focus on the Family on the biggest stage in the world, he simultaneously becomes synonymous with everything that this organization stands for. While Tebow might agree with the organization’s anti-abortion stance, does he agree with all of its other positions? Tebow is still a man in his early twenties, and probably does not have everything figured out yet. Does he want to be pigeonholed by the American people forevermore as someone who supports all that this extreme group supports?

Tim Tebow’s livelihood, and ability to provide for himself and his family for years to come, rests on the money he will make playing football. This includes professional contracts and endorsement. Michael Jordan has been called out for not being socially active during his playing days. In fact, Jordan would not even support an early civil rights leader running for Senate in his home state, saying, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

We don’t know how any of the most marketable athletes in the world – Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods to name a few – stand on social issues, and this is not by accident. By participating in this commercial, Tebow is severely limiting his marketing potential and losing potentially millions of future dollars. Add this to the fact that Tebow is not seen as a surefire NFL player (most experts predict he will be drafted in one of the late rounds), and most, if not all, possible endorsers will balk at the idea of signing him.

In no way am I arguing that Tebow should not be allowed to participate in this commercial, or that CBS should not air it, as some groups have said. It is his constitutional right to say what he feels wherever he feels. However, by doing so Tebow is hurting himself, perhaps in ways that he has not considered. Is it worth sacrificing this much and putting yourself behind a controversial group just to be seen for 30 seconds during the Super Bowl?

-David Sacks is a Carletonian columnist

Tebow deserves respect for his decision to speak out

By Justin Rotman

Anywhere you look in the sporting world today, it’s not hard to find a healthy dose of religion sprinkled in here and there. From football players taking a knee after touchdowns to baseball players pointing skywards after a base hit, many athletes have never shied away from praising God on the playing field.

Perhaps no athlete has worn their religion on their sleeve, though, as much as former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. Tebow was a devout Christian when he entered the University of Florida in 2006. Certainly many people expected him to fall to the temptations presented to him (and just as certainly couldn’t have blamed him if he did). Think of the possibilities: the best athlete on arguably the country’s most recognized collegiate team at the nation’s #2 party school? There’s no need to go any further. But as Tebow’s legend and stature grew ever larger— 3 BCS Bowl Victories, 2 National Championships, a 3-time All-American, and a Heisman Trophy— amassing to perhaps the greatest college football career ever, his faith was only revealed more.

Tebow wouldn’t say anything in a post game interview without first giving the glory to God. While his teammates and opponents adorned their eye black with logos or area codes, Tebow famously wrote Bible verses on his. When his classmates hit the beaches of Mexico or Hawaii for Spring Break, Tebow flew to the Philippines to do work at the missionary his parents established there. His show of faith did not come without demands, though. During a preseason media conference last year, Tebow was asked if he was saving himself for marriage. He responded like he had been asked a thousand times that, yes, he was, and then told the chuckling reporters “I think ya’ll are stunned right now.” Some thought of it as too personal a question. Tebow simply knew that such treatment came with the territory.

Any controversy Tebow faced or created at the University of Florida, though, pales drastically in comparison to what he is about to endure following Super Bowl Sunday. Tebow and his mother, Pam, are set to appear in a 30-second commercial for the pro-life group Focus on the Family. While the word “abortion” will never be specifically mentioned, Tebow and his mom will share the story of his birth. In 1987, when his parents were on a mission to the Philippines, Pam fell so ill that doctors recommended she abort her fifth child. Pam refused, continued with the pregnancy, and gave birth to Tim.

The Tebows have come under immense criticism by women’s groups across the country for the decision to promote a pro-life stance, while CBS is facing equal heat for approving the ad and deciding to air it. The prevailing thought of these groups is that such a political and religious message should not be shown during the biggest sporting event of the year.

But whether you are an evangelical Christian or an atheist, a conservative or a liberal, pro-life or pro-choice, you should not criticize Tebow for standing up for what he believes is right.

The Super Bowl is Americana 101. What day, save the 4th of July and Memorial Day, better celebrates our country by bringing together so many parts of American culture? Family, friends, football. Wings, pizza, beer. Over 90 million Americans watching. While we celebrate America, we should also be able to celebrate American values, such as the First Amendment and freedom of speech. Last time I checked, promoting a pro-life stance wasn’t obscene and didn’t provoke violence or illegal actions. The Tebows are sharing a personal message. Just as it’s their right to share it, it’s your right to switch the channel or put it on mute for 30-seconds. You will not miss any of the game.

Tebow has used his national fame and exposure to carry on what he believes is God’s message. He is already more famous than half the quarterbacks who start in the NFL. Athletes everywhere use their celebrity to pitch products and ideas. For Tebow, though, it’s not shoes or energy drinks. He’s standing up for what he believes in, and in a world where far too few athletes don’t, for fear of losing money or fans, that decision demands respect. I’m not saying you should watch Tebow’s ad, and I’m not saying you should agree with his message. I am saying, though, that you should respect it— if not for everything it stands for, then for everything he stands for.

-Justin Rotman is a Carletonian columnist

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