Tim Tebow’s trade to the New York Jets--and into the nation’s number one media market--has garnered a lot of attention in the press. And the mainstream media's scorn for his religion has been over-the-top.
Tebow-mocking, of course, is not new, but it’s now reached an all-time high.
The Atlantic mocked the Jets--and Christianity--in an article entitled, “New York City Sports, Now with Even More Jesus.
On ESPN, Skip Bayless asked Tebow how he felt about being one of the most polarizing, divisive players in the NFL because of his faith.
And recently, on MSNBC, The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin remarked, “There are a lot of LGBT people that live in New York City who are also football fans and they might want to know why the new, possibly starting, quarterback for the New York Jets wants them to move backwards 30 or 40 years." Since when does an athlete’s position on a social issue disqualify him from playing a sport?
CBSChicago.com writer Dan Bernstein labeled Tebow as a “little more than an affable simpleton” and criticized Tebow’s fans, calling them “lunatic-fringe cultists.”
Prior to the Super Bowl, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman opined in The Jewish Week that “If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.” The Jewish Week and Hammerman later apologized.
The attacks expanded to the absurd: MSNBC mocked Tebow’s reading ability when he read Green Eggs and Ham for Pizza Hut’s “BOOK IT!” children’s reading program.
In December 2011, Bill Press, who likes to lecture conservatives about civility, said on his radio show that Tim Tebow needs to “STFU” about Jesus, calling him a “disgrace” and an “embarrassment.” However, he was just getting started with those remarks. He continued: "By dragging God into every football game, Tebow makes a mockery of Chrisianity--and trivializes religion. The truth is, God doesn't care who wins an election, a bingo game, or a football game. Sorry, Tebow, Jesus is not a Broncos fan."
He then went on to mock Tebow's fans: "Now, if you're one of the silly millions of Americans who loves Tebow's in-your-face kind of Christianity, consider this. What if he were a devout Muslim, who bowed to Mecca after every touchdown and shouted 'Allahu Akbar'?"
Press and the other members refuse to see the bias and hypocrisy in their remarks. If Tebow was a Muslim the media would not dare to make the comments they are making about him or his faith.
The mainstream media did not pick up on his rant, and Press felt no need to apologize.
NBC sports analyst Jelisa Castrodale even remarked that hatred of Tebow is directly tied to his faith.
Why can’t the media just report the facts? Why is there such a need to criticize others who are different from them?
Unfortunately, the mainstream media is predominantly secular and liberal--and intolerant of others who don’t hold their views. They claim to honor "free speech" and the First Amendment, but hold a double standard when a Christian athlete expresses his faith by attacking his character--which is squeaky clean, in this case.
Criticism is to be expected, to be sure--Tebow is one of the most famous and popular athletes of his time, with a following of over 9,000 tweets per second in one game alone.
But what about reporting on the fact that he is a role model for younger athletes, especially when professional sports teams are plagued by sex scandals, drugs, steroids, and women abuse? If anything, Tebow represents that which is good about sports and athleticism.
Unfortunately, when journalists dismiss the role of religion in someone’s life, they miss out on telling some of the great stories within our culture. They also miss out on what is good about journalism—uncovering the truth or “uncomfortable” facts, being curious about life, investigating and describing facts in a sincere and unbiased way, and remaining open to learning and encouraging others to do the same.
When journalists avoid discussing topics that are uncomfortable to them, they then provide imbalanced and unfair coverage and deprive their audience of important answers and information that could be helpful and life-giving.