The big news last week was that college football great and NFL no-so-great Tim Tebow had cancelled his April speaking engagement at the First Baptist Church of Dallas—if you haven’t heard by now it’s a megachurch headed by pastor Robert Jeffress, who isn’t really keen on gays and lesbians, the Mormon, Jewish or Muslim faiths, or President Obama. And of course the media is now being credited and, in some cases, blamed for Tebow’s decision.
I have to say I’m surprised by Tebow’s move. Do I think it is a good move? Yes! But I’m still surprised. I think even three years ago this would have been one of those instances that a evangelical Christian in Tebow’s position would have milked dry. Being bullied about his beliefs and all. I’m surprised the narrative didn’t go something like, “I’m not going to be told by the media or any one else how to serve, God!” I imagine that he would have then gone on every available news and religious program to talk about how he was being railroaded for his beliefs by the evil, liberal media and the “gay agenda.”
But times have changed. Tebow knows that a speaking engagement like the one he had booked for April in Texas could damage his image for years. However, his manner of announcement, with a vague, at best, post on Twitter and Facebook (at least that’s where I saw his post announcing the cancellation). He kind of eased out of the appearance with very little to say about it.
So what happened next? Well you’ve seen it. Stories from both those who have a new found appreciation for Tebow and those who felt disheartened by his announcement. The one side congratulating him for his courage and standing up to what many have called hate speech and the other side calling him a coward, who has succumb to the pressures of the wicked world (I’ve actually seen the word wicked thrown around).
All that to say, yes I do think the media holds athletes and public figures more accountable when it comes to LGBT community. We’ve seen story after story in the last year, where folks are learning that difficult way that even indirect hate doesn’t play out in the media. I would credit Greg Doyel’s February 18 column on CBSSports.com with shedding some mainstream attention on the Tebow speaking engagement. If you missed it, you should read it. Doyel sums up the entire argument in the first sentence—“Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life.” I don’t see anything wrong with the media “scaring” Tebow into a good decision. Isn’t the media supposed to hold public figures accountable for their actions? I don’t think everyone has the same opinion. A post and the comments that followed on The Blaze is evidence that some folks feel pretty strongly the other way.
What do you think about Tebow’s decision, and what was the media’s role?
Oh and here’s a video from The Right Wing Watch that show cases the American Family Association’s reaction to Tebow’s news.