Tim Tebow’s pro life Super Bowl ad spells trouble for CBS


By Jake McCormick

November 2, 2008, played host to a series of events only seen every four years in the NFL. But the games themselves weren’t anything out of the ordinary.

I, as was the case in nine other games that year, was fuming over the roadkill effort of the Green Bay Packer defense in their overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans. I then started my routine of pushing required homework aside in favor of joining my roommates in a groupthink complaint over the sudden death rules in NFL overtimes. Finally, I took my anger out on the virtual Titans in Madden 09 and eventually moved to the controlled aggressive release offered by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

The reason for the day’s uniqueness lied, literally, in between the lines. It was the Sunday before the presidential election, and nearly every other advertisement from noon through primetime on FOX, CBS, and NBC featured Barack Obama, John McCain, or some advocacy group attempting to rally any remaining undecided voters. Each ad was then followed by 10-15 seconds of silence from the group of people watching it, which can be funny or uncomfortable depending on your sense of humor.

Political ads before an election are nothing new, but CBS is going for the grandaddy of awkwardness on Super Sunday. The network is already receiving criticism for its plan to air an ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother likely voicing their opposition to abortion, in one way or another. The ad is funded by Focus on the Family, a group that supports every stereotypically conservative Christian issue in the book, yet a spokesman for the group said the ad will not anger the pro choice crowd and claims they aren’t trying to sell anything.


Considering where the ad is coming from (they once decried Spongebob as homosexual propaganda) and Tebow’s own response, it would be foolish to think it’s going to simply be a feel-good story about Tebow’s mother choosing to keep Tim despite her ailing health at the time. But whether you’re pro life or pro choice, do you really want to see a 30 second ad concerning ANYTHING about abortion, the ultimate “us vs. them” issue that draws out red-faced diatribes from seemingly docile people? Add in the fact that it’s the Super Bowl and the ad costs around $2.6 million, and there’s another red flag supporting the argument that the message will be pro life one way or another. As one opponent of the ad said, sports act as uniters and shouldn’t encourage divisions.

Ten Packer fans can forge a bond so easily under the green and gold and sacrifice any philosophical differences to cheer for the same team. That’s why the New Orleans Saints were so important after Hurricane Katrina, and the Virginia Tech Hokie football team became more significant to the university after the massacre on campus. They don’t “save” cities or populations, as some in the media have erroneously asserted. After all, the closest anyone that was really affected by Katrina got to a Saints game was when they were temporary residents in the Superdome, and I doubt they were walking around looking for tickets.

Rather, sports provide an escape from life’s dilemmas and give people a chance to feel part of a community with a simple, yet strong connection. Injecting politics into the discussion is always going to produce unnecessarily awkward reminders that despite the bond as football fans, there are bigger issues that divide us once the game ends.

I don’t fault Focus on the Family for buying the ad, because they can obviously pay for it and have a right to voice their views. But CBS chose not to air a 2004 ad by the more liberal United Church of Christ welcoming homosexuals and people shunned by more conservative churches to their congregation, citing a network policy against controversial issue advocacy. It’ll be interesting to hear why this pro life ad may be more worthy of airtime considering the backlash it’s already getting two weeks before launch. For some reason I have a feeling there are $2.5-2.8 million reasons why it breaks the previous precedent, and I can’t blame CBS if they think it’s a good thing for the network.

The Super Bowl is the only event on national television where the advertisements are just as talked about as the game itself. Since Janet Jackson’s nipple found its way into America’s living rooms and Miller Lite’s “Let’s make out” ad, the side dishes to the Super Bowl have gotten so conservative that the ads are funny on a fifth grade level and the already atrocious halftime show is dominated by bands that would’ve been a great idea 30 years ago. Hopefully CBS considered all of these things before approving the ad, and for all we know it won’t be as blunt as pro life bumper stickers, but there’s no denying that there’s trouble brewing on the horizon for “America’s Most Watched Network.”


  1. paulmbanks says

    Yeah ever since the “wardrobe malfunction” the ads have SUCKED SUCKED SUCKED..and the bands performing at halftime have been geared towards the Levitra crowd. Maybe CBS can get away with this ad now because of the new atmosphere in the wake of the Supreme Court’s new ruling last week.

    the atrocity of a ruling saying corporations are “people” and have the same free speech rights as people. so now it;s legal for multinationals to spend as much money as they want on campaign ads. I know FOTF is a non-profit, but now they have a green-light to spend as much money as they can with their mindless propagnada

  2. paulmbanks says

    do you have the link to where they called spongebob gay? wow those people are creepy. btw, I love the fact that yahoo had a big headline today saying Tebow is drawing criticism from pro scouts, and his stock is FALLING like GM…love it!

  3. My first thought was why Pat Robertson couldn’t find a more worthy cause for $2.5 million than running a TV ad, like the earthquake in Haiti…

  4. seriously…talk about misguided values from the so-called “moralists” in our society

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