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It's only natural that Tim Tebow's views will affect a fan's view of him, whether you think that's right or wrong. Fans are always trying to latch onto a reason to root for or against a player or team. Tebow is so out front pushing his religious views, that there is an understandable backlash (or applause). His views may be no different from many athletes, but his willingness to state them in an ad on the most-watched TV show of the year makes him a lightning rod.
His Super Bowl ad bothers readers at Outsports, not because of its anti-abortion message, but because it's being paid for by the Focus on the Family, an advocacy group that fights against gay rights. Having a high-profile jock shill for such a group has raised the ire of gay sports fans and has them actively rooting for Tebow to be a NFL bust. "Knew it was only a matter of time before Tebow started infecting the populace with his 'Christian' love - a love that has a seething hatred for anyone that doesn't adhere to his very old testament viewpoints" read one comment typical on Outsports. One of our bloggers, in reviewing Tebow's less-than-impressive Senior Bowl stint, wrote a piece headlined: "Saint Timothy Has A Bad Senior Bowl."
The fact is that no one knows Tebow's views on gay issues (one writer who profiled him wrote on Slate that he wished he had asked Tebow about his views on social issues in light of the ad). His association with Focus on Family though is enough for our readers. I get their anger.
I was furious when then-Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy raised money in 2007 for the Indiana Family Institute, a political lobbying group opposed to gay rights. That act instantly made Colts haters out of many gay NFL fans I know. The irony for me was that I am a Colts fan and stayed one despite what Dungy did. This points out the irrationality of being a sports fan. I was able to compartmentalize my anger at Dungy and kept rooting for his players, whose views on the subject were a mystery to me. When Dungy retired, it thankfully eliminated that conflict.
Rooting for or against a team because of the views of one of its players can be a no-win proposition. Take this year's Super Bowl. The Saints have Scott Fujita, a strong supporter of gay rights and same-sex marriage. They also have Jeremy Shockey, who said he would have a problem with a gay teammate and once called Bill Parcells a "homo." What's a gay-rights loving fan to do?
In the end, jocks who use their high profile to push a particular religious or social cause should accept any heat that comes with that. If you get up on a platform, don't be surprised when someone lobs rotten tomatoes your way; you're too much of a tempting target.
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