Did The ‘Liberal’ Media Force Tebow’s Cancellation Of An Upcoming Speaking Engagement?

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.

Let the Manti Te’o Gay Rumors Begin

Yesterday I came home from class to find Twitter had exploded—almost literally. Deadspin’s article uncovering Manti Te’o’s GirlfriendGate was everywhere, and so were the jokes, rumors and speculation. One of the most interesting questions being asked, at least to me, were the speculations regarding Te’o’s sexuality. Many have asked whether or not the entire hoax may have been concocted to conceal the fact that Te’o is gay.

What if this is exactly that—a very odd beard scheme? Does that make the actions excusable? I can understand why he might fake a girlfriend if this were the case. But wouldn’t it just be easier and less umm fraud-like to just play the “I’m waiting until marriage” card like everyone else?

I can’t lie an openly gay college star that was headed to a first round draft spot would be an almost instant icon for the gay community. A first in so many ways. The first out NCAA Division 1 football player. The first out and active NFL player. The first out and active male professional athlete in the United States. After so many years of waiting and speculating as to who would be the first openly gay professional male athlete and what would happen to that person’s career, the gay community would have its star, its answers and its validation in the sports world.

Okay maybe that’s a lot to ask. But I don’t think it’s too far from the truth.

A quick search for blogs about Te’o gay rumors yielded your usual suspects of speculation and homophobic garbage. The Blue Board on 247 Sports dedicated a thread to the question, “So Manti Te’o gay?” The responses ranged from armchair psychoanalysis as to his motives to hurling around “gay” as an insult to his masculinity and athletic ability. And that’s where this gets into dangerous territory.

Speculating that Te’o may actually be gay and that he fabricated this story and person to hide his sexuality for fear of being “outed” is understandable. Would it be a misguided attempt to play it straight? Yes. He wouldn’t be the first athlete to hide his sexuality for fear of losing his job, but he might be the first to win an Oscar while doing it. Speculation of this sort has some legs. Maybe not legs that can yet stand but still it has some semblance of a reasonable thought.

What I find problematic is the folks hurling, “Te’o is gay,” as an affront or an assault on his playing abilities, his intellect or his masculinity. Being an openly gay football player is not a negative. Being an openly homophobic troll IS a negative.

Is it probable that Te’o is gay and will come out? Not really. It’s more likely that Te’o, and those around him, saw an opportunity to score points with Heisman voters (and I’m sure it scored a lot of points). Tyler Moorehead of College Spun reported that his Notre Dame teammates claimed that he still had “relations” with other women during the time he was allegedly involved with “Lennay Kekua.” Unless they’re all imaginary—which hasn’t been ruled out—it’s more likely that Te’o saw a big fat check at the end of the publicity rainbow and not the other rainbow.