The Word has come down from the ESPN president, and it isn’t the same Word that Tim Tebow lives by. This Word is: Cut back on Tebow coverage.
ESPN president John Skipper has lowered the boom on reporters discussing Tebow. He feels that the Tebow phenomenon has a limited shelf life. After ESPN covered the New York Jets training camp and reported on Tebow, they kept focusing on Tebow, disturbing Skipper, who said: “I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t handle this very well.’ Going to training camp wasn’t a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long.”
Tebow hasn’t been a factor in the Jets’ season, as he has been relegated to protecting the punter and being used as a Wildcat quarterback.
Skipper’s outburst was triggered by the appearance of former ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb on the “Dan Patrick Show.” Gottlieb said that he was told by his bosses at ESPN, “You can’t talk enough Tebow.”
The quote that I hated was from Doug Gottlieb. … I didn’t love that. I want people to think about what works for the next 10 minutes might not be the best thing for us for three years. That one hit home with me. We’ve had some good discussions internally about trying to be careful. In some ways, the more difficult internal conflict is between long-term story telling and ratings. We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you’re going to do better. But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, ‘Guys, let’s not get over excited about one story and hyping it.’
Skipper doesn’t realize that the reason Tebow is such a ratings hit is that he is that rarity in the U.S. today, an unashamed Christian who actually practices what he preaches. It doesn’t matter if Tebow is a star in the NFL or not; when he was given the chance to use his success to profess his faith publicly, he didn’t miss a beat. And in a country that is tempted to follow its leader’s predilections for secular values, those of us who believe in our faith will take as many Tebows as we can get.