The Reaction to Tebow
Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2007, was traded to the Jets from the Denver Broncos following the 2011-2012 season, after having led the Broncos into the playoffs with a impressive six-game winning streak. However, Tebow became expendable when Denver was able to add megastar quarterback, Peyton Manning, to their roster.
Throughout his football career, Tebow has had to defend his strong Christian faith, which he has often expressed in interviews, on the field, and by his support of a number of Christian charities. The visibility of his faith, coupled with his personal integrity, has made him extremely popular with football fans but controversial among many sports writers and commentators. They believe that he is not up to playing quarterback in the National Football League and, more importantly, he should leave his faith at the church door.
So when he was released by the New York Jets, it was not surprising that some commentators had a field day reporting that Tebow was out of a job:
--A commentator for ESPN reported with some glee that no other club had tried to sign Tebow, even though he was a free agent. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't seem to be interested, though Jacksonville was where he had played football in college.
--Another reported with a titter that Tebow had an offer to be a quarterback coach for the Lingerie Football League, which is a league featuring scantily clad women play-acting as football players.
--One sports reporter announced with considerable hilarity that Tebow had been offered $75 a game to play quarterback for the Omaha Beef arena football team.
ESPN also reported that John Idzik, general manager of the Jets, had decided to release Tebow quickly after they drafted West Virginia's star quarterback, Geno Smith. Idzik was reportedly concerned that "various members of the Jets organization were warming to Tebow this offseason . . . and Idzik did not want the type of Tebow distractions in 2013 that last year's team endured."
The Reaction to Collins
Jason Collins, journeyman center for the Washington Wizards, was among the very first active players of a major professional sport to openly announce that he is a homosexual. The reaction to Collins's announcement was significantly different from that experienced by Tim Tebow:
--President Obama called Collins "to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage."
--Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "I can certainly tell you that here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country and commend him for his courage."
--First lady Michelle Obama tweeted, "So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!"
--"Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA" came from Chelsea Clinton.
--"I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned" came from Bill Clinton.
--The Brooklyn Nets' Jerry Stackhouse wants NBA Commissioner David Stern to guarantee free agent Jason Collins a contract for next season.
Other notables voicing support for Collins and his decision to reveal his homosexuality include Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, “Good Morning America's” George Stephanopolous, Collins's Wizards teammate John Wall, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, filmmaker Michael Moore, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, actress Eva Longoria, tennis great Andy Roddick, golfer Michelle Wie, NBA legend Isaiah Thomas, L.A. Lakers forward Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, NBA legend Magic Johnson, the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, talk show host Katie Couric, L.A. Lakers guard Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, former football great and talk show host Michael Strahan, and many others.
Virtue vs. Vice
It’s true that not everyone reacted so positively. Chris Broussard, senior writer for ESPN magazine, was blunt in his on-air remarks: "I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin . . . that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”
As Broussard probably foresaw, reaction to his comments was swift and negative:
--ESPN's Josh Krulewitz rebuked Broussard's view and said the network is "fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins' announcement.” In language reminiscent of that used about Tebow, ESPN "regretted the distraction."
--Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports wrote: "Gay young men and women have an impossibly tough time growing up and attempting to fit in. . . . The last thing they need is to see someone like Chris Broussard, who ESPN trusts as its voice both at games and in-studio, to be referring to them as sinners who are in 'open rebellion to God.'"
--Michael Sherrard, representing Faithful America, urged supporters to sign a petition that calls on ESPN to discipline Broussard: "ESPN needs to hear immediately that it is unacceptable to turn Christian faith into a weapon of anti-gay hatred."
--Chris Russell, a local ESPN radio commentator, excoriated Broussard for bringing his Christian faith into the discussion when he said he "didn't agree with homosexuality.” However, Russell didn't say under what value system he determined that homosexual behavior should be extolled.
So, in our upside-down culture, being openly Christian is a vice while being openly homosexual is a virtue. This view that is increasing at an alarming rate and fast becoming the "new normal." It is clear that proponents of what used to be considered vice, have seized the moment and are pressing their advantage.
Just last week in California, for instance, a "Pupil Rights" bill AB-1266 passed the assembly, which forces all California to allow students to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities consistent with his or her gender identity. According to Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, "This bill allows children of any gender to participate on any sports team, and enter into locker rooms, showers and bathrooms of their choice based on that student's private sense of their own gender regardless of their biological gender at birth." What’s playing out on the national stage is being reflected all over the country, including among our youngest and most impressionable citizens.The stark contrast between the reactions to the Tebow and Collins announcements show that proponents of “gay rights” have been quite successful in moving the culture toward increasing acceptance of homosexual behavior, while effectively marginalizing faith-based criticism.
Image copyright Digital Afro.
Allan Dobras is a freelance writer on religious and cultural issues and an electronics engineer. He lives in Springfield, Va.