Wherever devout Christian quarterback Tim Tebow goes, he is dogged by the hatred of those who cannot stand him or his faith. Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets amid much media fanfare, and some sportswriters naturally used the occasion to engage in personal attacks on Tebow, his religion, and his fans.
MSNBC invited Nation sports editor Dave Zirin to give his opinion on Tebow’s move to New York. Zirin bizarrely argued that “there are a lot of LGBT people that live in New York City who are also football fans” and that “the new, possibly, starting quarterback for the New York Jets wants them to move backwards 30 or 40 years.” (The Denver Broncos refused to participate in anti-heterosexual Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better Project” when Tebow was still on the Broncos, drawing the ire of the gay community and the left-wing media.)
Other writers also used the occasion to launch biting attacks on Tebow and his fans. CBSChicago.com writer Dan Bernstein called Tebow fans “lunatic-fringe cultists,” and pronounced Tebow to be “little more than an affable simpleton.” The Atlantic put out a piece with the mocking headline “New York City Sports, Now with Even More Jesus.”
But Tebow bashing is not new, by any stretch. Loathing of Tebow and his fans has at times reached disturbing proportions – even in the media. Rabbi Joshua Hammerman claimed in December that if Tebow won the Super Bowl, his followers could run riot, declaring: “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.” MSN.com mocked Tebow’s reading ability when Tebow participated in Pizza Hut’s “BOOK IT!” children’s reading program during the offseason. (Both Hammerman and MSN.com were forced to apologize by outraged fans.)
There is no reason – other than Tebow’s faith, of course – for writers to get so worked up about a quarterback, who by all accounts has consistently acted in an upstanding and even exemplary manner. Even NFL analysts have acknowledged an anti-religious strain in the rampant hatred of Tebow.
There is legitimate controversy over whether or not Tim Tebow is a viable NFL quarterback. But there is clearly an irrational loathing of Tebow which many engage in, in large part, because of his outspoken faith.
And some in the media are willing to join in those attacks.