Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Male - Female Divide on Tebow

What has been particularly interesting in being a Tebow fan over the past 4+ years is the difference of opinion that men and women have regarding Tim Tebow. Few, if any, female Gators don't adore him. But guys, particularly single men of all ages, have a very uncomfortable relationship with Tim Tebow. Guys love that he has led the Gators to victory and bulldozed opponents in the process, but guys don't like being compared to Tebow, because let's face it, the guy is very rare these days. The more girls gush, the more insecure and insignificant men begin to feel in comparison. The other side is the angry, and even vitriolic, criticisms that you get from the likes of Hamilton Nolan of Gawker who begrudge the fact that Tebow didn't abuse his celebrity and influence by turning UF into his own private fiefdom and harem. Because if given the chance, that is exactly what they would have loved to do themselves.

Contrast these two statements:

Man: Tebow makes us nervous, makes us question our value system, makes us search for fallacy in him so that perhaps our transgressions won't seem so dishonorable...Tim Tebow is an easy target to hate because, for most, he's just so damn difficult to accept.

Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time.

Now that Tebow is willing to make a stand on an issue that most men don't want to talk about, and is unafraid of the criticism, even sharpens the divide. The reason the McShays of the world are so critical of Tebow's throwing motion, and ability to play, is because they can't legitimately take him on in the arena of integrity and traditional morality. The best they can muster is "he's a fake!"

For so many, Tebow is a reminder of what things can and might be, and not what they currently are. Below are two stories which take this side of the Tebow story on.

We'll say it again, none of us are going to play like he does on the field, but it isn't difficult to live like he does off the field. It may take some practice, but it will be worth it. It will also be alot of fun in the long run too.

Ed Graney: Tebow stays true to beliefs

The annoying thing is not that Tim Tebow has chosen now to restate his Christian values before the world but rather that anyone would question the timing.

It's like most things involving Tebow. He isn't the problem.

It's the rest of us.

Tebow makes us nervous, makes us question our value system, makes us search for fallacy in him so that perhaps our transgressions won't seem so dishonorable.

He is not perfect, and yet how he acts and what he says and the manner in which he approaches life seems to put others on the defensive.

Tim Tebow is an easy target to hate because, for most, he's just so damn difficult to accept.


When was the last time this much news about a player in the Senior Bowl, which is today in Mobile, Ala., was reported as it has been on Tebow? We are hearing scouts don't think he is accurate enough. That his delivery will lead to interceptions. That he will struggle lining up under center. That he isn't their kind of quarterback. What, a winning one?

You can bet he's their kind of person.

Tebow isn't worried about how a Christianity-based Super Bowl commercial will affect his draft status any more than he was the reaction many would have when he admitted to saving himself for marriage, any more than he cared what anyone thought about his mission to Third World countries, where he helped circumcise babies.

That's the part most can't understand about him. He doesn't think as we assume an athlete of his standing would.

This was Tebow addressing reporters at last season's Southeastern Conference media day:

"You know, everybody, they can look and say how easy it is. But it's definitely not that easy. The difference is 'cause not many people want to wake up at 5, go through workouts, go speak to young kids, go back, eat lunch, go to class, go to tutoring, go speak at a prison at night, come back.

"You know, there are a lot of leaders out there. But, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones. So that's always been my dream and my goal, to be someone that a parent can say, 'Hey, this kid did it the right way.' That's always been my dream and my goal more so than winning a trophy or winning a championship.

"So if it's cynical or whatnot, that's fine. If people don't believe it, that's fine. There's always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it's fake. But that's fine because you can't control everybody. But I can control what I do, my attitude, how I approach the situation.

"So how I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good because that's gonna mean so much more when it's all said and done than just playing football and winning championships."

How's that for a commercial?

Sally Jenkins: Tebow's Super Bowl ad isn't intolerant; its critics are

I'll spit this out quick, before the armies of feminism try to gag me and strap electrodes to my forehead: Tim Tebow is one of the better things to happen to young women in some time. I realize this stance won't endear me to the "Dwindling Organizations of Ladies in Lockstep," otherwise known as DOLL, but I'll try to pick up the shards of my shattered feminist credentials and go on.

As statements at Super Bowls go, I prefer the idea of Tebow's pro-life ad to, say, Jim McMahon dropping his pants, as the former Chicago Bears quarterback once did in response to a question. We're always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks. It therefore seems more than a little hypocritical to insist on it only if it means criticizing sneaker companies, and to stifle them when they take a stance that might make us uncomfortable.

I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

There's not enough space in the sports pages for the serious weighing of values that constitutes this debate, but surely everyone in both camps, pro-choice or pro-life, wishes the "need" for abortions wasn't so great. Which is precisely why NOW is so wrong to take aim at Tebow's ad.

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.

You know what we really need more of? Famous guys who aren't embarrassed to practice sexual restraint, and to say it out loud. If we had more of those, women might have fewer abortions. See, the best way to deal with unwanted pregnancy is to not get the sperm in the egg and the egg implanted to begin with, and that is an issue for men, too -- and they should step up to that.

"Are you saving yourself for marriage?" Tebow was asked last summer during an SEC media day.

"Yes, I am," he replied.

The room fell into a hush, followed by tittering: The best college football player in the country had just announced he was a virgin. As Tebow gauged the reaction from the reporters in the room, he burst out laughing. They were a lot more embarrassed than he was.

"I think y'all are stunned right now!" he said. "You can't even ask a question!"

That's how far we've come from any kind of sane viewpoint about star athletes and sex. Promiscuity is so the norm that if a stud isn't shagging everything in sight, we feel faintly ashamed for him.

Obviously Tebow can make people uncomfortable, whether it's for advertising his chastity, or for wearing his faith on his face via biblical citations painted in his eye-black. Hebrews 12:12, his cheekbones read during the Florida State game: "Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." His critics find this intrusive, and say the Super Bowl is no place for an argument of this nature. "Pull the ad," NOW President Terry O'Neill said. "Let's focus on the game."

Trouble is, you can't focus on the game without focusing on the individuals who play it -- and that is the genius of Tebow's ad. The Super Bowl is not some reality-free escape zone. Tebow himself is an inescapable fact: Abortion doesn't just involve serious issues of life, but of potential lives, Heisman trophy winners, scientists, doctors, artists, inventors, Little Leaguers -- who would never come to be if their birth mothers had not wrestled with the stakes and chosen to carry those lives to term. And their stories are every bit as real and valid as the stories preferred by NOW.

Let me be clear again: I couldn't disagree with Tebow more. It's my own belief that the state has no business putting its hand under skirts. But I don't care that we differ. Some people will care that the ad is paid for by Focus on the Family, a group whose former spokesman, James Dobson, says loathsome things about gays. Some will care that Tebow is a creationist. Some will care that CBS has rejected a gay dating service ad. None of this is the point. CBS owns its broadcast and can run whatever advertising it wants, and Tebow has a right to express his beliefs publicly. Just as I have the right to reject or accept them after listening -- or think a little more deeply about the issues. If the pro-choice stance is so precarious that a story about someone who chose to carry a risky pregnancy to term undermines it, then CBS is not the problem.

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