ESPN, the network that hired Tim Tebow this week as a college football analyst for its SEC Network, is downplaying the superstar’s deep Christian faith.
“We acknowledge and understand that Tim’s faith is a big part of who he is… at the same time we hired him for his football opinions,” ESPN executive Justin Connolly reportedly said on Tuesday.
ESPN went under fire when it rejected an ad from a Catholic children’s hospital because the ad had the words “God” and “Jesus.” After pressure from Breitbart Sports and politicians like Sarah Palin, ESPN ran the original ad, but only after Breitbart Sports noticed that ESPN had botched the rollout of that ad.
ESPN, though it is trying to establish itself as the supposedly “smart” network that appeals to urban and more upscale audiences, needs the South and SEC fans. In fact, that may be the key reason why the network’s ratings have not plummeted like CNN’s. And, to say the least, Southerners tend to be more religious than the coastal elites ESPN often tries to cater to with its programming.
But ESPN is taking the “safe” approach of NFL teams that reportedly took a pass on Tebow in part because they did not want to deal with the frenzy that Tebow stirs up among his supporters and detractors largely due to his public embrace of his evangelical Christian faith.