As a hardcore Bama fan, I cheered for the Tebow Child and Percy Harvin—plus those other guys—against the now Quad-Cursed Stoops Brigade. After the Sugar Bowl, I knew the Tebow was the real deal, a brush-cut QB/halfback straight out of a 1950’s football flick, complete with quaint (and real) honesty and devotion to his team.
Like most of the thinking world, I was appalled at the extremely weak Fox broadcast. Sure, you could watch it in 3-D, but that didn’t stop the utter inanity of the color team or the absolute factual inaccuracies they parroted. At one point, a chyron celebrated that Harvin—a wonder—had scored in one zillion consecutive games.
That would be great if it were true, but even the bumbling announcers had noted that he was out during the game against Alabama—a high ankle sprain—and certainly the entire Tide-Gator blogosphere knew that, since it was critical to the Gators’ advancement to a title shot and, you know, it happened just a few weeks ago. It was a sloppy bit of work indicative of the tone of the entire broadcast, more GMAC than Orange, more Verne Lundquist than Keith Jackson.
Yet the main thing that burned me was the pre-game documentary on the Tebow Child. His story is well-known; home-schooled, his parents sunk every dime they had into mission work, and footage was shown of “Timmy” speaking in schools, prisons, hospitals, and developing countries, with reaction shots of folks letting you know this wasn’t just some guy cpmpng to your high school to scare you straight: this was the real deal. There were grown men in jail talking about how he made them want to lead a better life. That is striking and admirable.
And then strides the mighty quarterback onto the field, “John 3:16” written on his eyeblack stickers, but if you had never heard of him before and were just clicking on the teevee you’d never know why. Huh? Oh yeah, not once during the broadcast did they say the word “Christian” or “Jesus.”
A truly bizarre scene of censorship from a network whose cousin bellows constantly and coarsely in efforts to stir up fundamentalist fervor, and an utter failure to treat football—and Tebow’s beliefs—with any seriousness or respect at all. Tebow is who he is because he is the home-schooled fifth child of evangelical Christian missionaries. That’s not my life, nor do I wish it on most, and I am certainlu against home-schooling. But that’s the hero’s story, and it is not only bizarre to omit why he is so “inspiring,” it’s plain goofy—because the folks watching already knew. Fox’s conscious decision to neuter Tebow’s spiritual beliefs was both curious and jarring.
As we march further into this new century, diversity is ever more the mark of America. Discussion and respect for the beliefs of others are a hallmark of our growing country, and that certainly ought to include football. Unless you are an Auburn or LSU fan, at which point you can suck it.