Tim Tebow, Jason Collins and that comic that misrepresents the media

Is this right?

A couple of my friends brought this comic to my attention this past week. I’ve seen it before but I didn’t think much of it. It was stupid and it misrepresented what the media has done in their coverage of Tim Tebow and Jason Collins. But my friends’ reactions to the comic is what concerned me because their reaction in a way believed that the comic told the truth. Or in a sense, that there was a convoluted difference between the two.

Here’s the thing. Jason Collins coming out is nothing ordinary. He is a pioneer, if you want to use that word. He was brave, a hero, if you want to use those words. Whatever you want to call it, he was the first to do something that we knew eventually would happen. It just took one person to get the ball rolling. He did. With all that prejudice that comes with being a gay athlete, it’s an intriguing storyline and it’s worth covering.

In a way, the media in what I have seen, has covered it the way it should have. They’ve gotten reactions from gay people. They’ve gotten reactions from former teammates. The discussion for the most part has been good and the media has done well in it. There have been some mistakes here and there, but the media did exactly right in my opinion on covering it. (And the for the most part, it used the right words and reactions to it also.)

The comic, however, doesn’t get it. They are comparing this media coverage of Collins in the same light as Tim Tebow. Tebow’s Christianity, according to this comic, was overexposed by the media. But as part of the media that covers Tebow, I disagree completely with the comic.

Tebow’s Christianity is not a new story. Unlike Collins coming out, we’ve known about Tebow’s faith background for a long time. Anyone who watched college football knew he was born to a missionary family in the Philippines. We’ve seen his eye black with Bible verses. His openness about his faith has been apparent since his college days.

Nobody then made a big deal out of it. We knew it. We saw it happening.

The reason why there is this misconception is because Tebow became the megastar Tebow when he started playing in the NFL. ESPN is at fault for this. NFL Network shoulders some blame for this. It wasn’t because he was Christian, but all the coverage solely based on his abilities as a quarterback — or his inabilities.

The intrigue with Tebow was simply due to his talent. And because of his lack of talent, then the layers of the onion started to peel with it. His skills in college weren’t going to translate to the NFL, but he kept winning. It caught our attention. We wanted more of the guy that didn’t have the skills but led the Broncos to the playoffs.

Because of that, we wanted to dig out more about him. His faith resurfaced because of it. Whatever he said became headline news. It was TMZ for the national media. It so happened that he talked about his faith and that was what was blown up. We didn’t seek it, he gave it to us and we destroyed it.

Had Tebow talked about being a cat lover, we would have given him that kind of coverage, asking PETA supporters their thoughts. If he claimed to like Hawaiian pizza, you know we’d Papa John’s his exposure too. It was a different set of circumstances. We didn’t tell Tebow to keep his faith to himself. We just heard it and ran with it because it was the sensation that was Tebow.

In a way, this is a reminder that the media can get caught up with things. The media isn’t perfect. We’re still an evolving medium with new technologies and access. In a way, the media are also fans and are learning with the times. The coverage on Collins wasn’t perfect, but it did exactly what it needed to do in covering it. It’s a big story and looking at it now, it’s isn’t being dragged along.

Whereas for the Tebow deal, the media just went on with the sensation. The people wanted more of anything he said. That’s how it happened. I don’t think his faith was ever part of the hatred for Tebow. It just so happened that Tebow the football player was so intriguing that it forced us to want to know more about Tebow the person. And somewhere down the line, it got mixed up and convoluted where the comic above happened.

It’s an unfair way to portray the media but sometimes, with all this coverage and media attention, the message still gets lost.

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