In THE SPORTS LANDSCAPE Bill Sullivan on January 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm


What is with the media’s fixation on Tim Tebow and his praying? It is a non-issue that has been blanket-covered by today’s rubber-stamp media.

For years, athletes have blessed themselves before digging into the batter’s box or taking a free throw. It’s commonplace for a runner crossing home plate to point to the sky. Priests at Jesuit schools sit at the end of the bench during basketball games. “God Bless America” is more a part of the seventh inning than stretching.

After NFL games, players from both teams gather at mid-field for a prayer. It’s part of the Fellowship for Christian Athletes post-game ceremony. By the way, each one is kneeling and or holding each other’s hand. I’ve never heard a reporter call attention to this circle of fellowshiop, yet make fun of it. So why the ridiculing of Tebow?

It can’t be because he’s some sissy. Ever see the guy’s biceps? Watch Tebow on a quarterback keeper off the option. He doesn’t dodge a tackler or take a slide. When being tackled is inevitable, he crashes into the defender and picks up two more yards. Think all he cares about is gesturing? Think he doesn’t care about winning? On the sideline during the Pittsburgh playoff game, he was as intense as could be. Players were feeding off it. So was Coach John Fox, who was caught open-mouthed at the vigor displayed by his first-year starting quarterback. Guys weren’t high-fiving him but slapping him across the chest and on the shoulder, so hard it would’ve knocked a line of books off a shelf.

At the close of the postgame show on CBS last week, host James Brown and his crew all made the Tebow prayer gesture with grins while signing off. Whose idea was this? Some lame-brained producer who wanted to be cute? Hopefully it wasn’t Brown, who always has exuded Ivy-League class. I expect Brown to make an on-air apology this weekend because I know he insulted many viewers, me for one. I don’t attend church services and haven’t for decades but why make fun of someone’s praying? Compare it to other on-field gestures and it’s most worthy.

Commonplace at NFL games used to be a fan  in the endzone seats who would hoist a sign with “John 3:16” when the football was spinning end-over-end between the uprights.  No media mention of that, ever. I don’t read the Bible so I don’t know what that verse means. Maybe we’d all be a little better off if we looked it up. Some signs are vulgar. Remember the fan in the Boston Garden who held up a placard that read “Zulu” to mock Patrick Ewing and the visiting Georgetown Hoyas basketball team? Now that’s a display that needs to be criticized.

The media once again has shown its’ collective ignorance by focusing on something personal and private. Freedom of religion and speech are constitutionally protected. The showboats who call themselves reporters or journalists should remember this before making fools of themselves —  a common occurrence today.

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