Friday, January 09, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Awesome

I may have had the score wrong but last night's game played out pretty much how I predicted. Florida's defense was too tough for OU to really get rolling and Tim Tebow was too tough for the Sooner defense to stop. Game over.

Which brings us to this morning and the anti-Tebow backlash raging online and on the radio. People seem to have had enough of the overly effusive praise that he has gotten from TV announcers over the last few years, praise that was dialed up to a fever pitch last night on Fox.

From my vantage point, the only legitimate reason to hate Tebow is that you are a fan of a team whose head he continues to kick in (the way you might hate Peyton Manning if you are a Jaguars fan). The guy is good and if you can't stop him, you might start to hate him. (I suppose you might also be rubbed the wrong way by his overt religiosity. But that isn't really a reason to hate Tebow. That's just a general dislike of overt religiosity.) The coverage of Tebow is another story. It is unqestionably over the top and, as such, can get a bit annoying when you are just trying to watch a football game. But as far as I know, he hasn't requested this kind of exposure and so it isn't quite fair to hold him accountable for it.

The more fundamental problem is that the obsession with Tebow can make it seem like he's the only good person (and good player) on the field and that's not fair to all of the players whose talent is not as great as Tebow's but whose character and off-the-field accomplishments are equally impressive. Unwittingly, perhaps, I think the media are pushing a connection between the off-the-field and on-the-field accomplishments and I suspect that this is the cause of the backlash. It's one thing to get your head kicked in by a player who is better than you are. It's another to be told that the guy kicking your head is not only the best player on the field; he's also the best person. But as we know all too well, one has very little to do with the other.


JAK said...

Agreed. Florida was indeed the better team, and it was their defense that really won the game.

Both quarterbacks had, I think, two interceptions. Tebow's were from really bad throws. Bradford's interceptions were right-on throws that his receivers had a chance of catching, but the defense subsequently took the ball away. OU failed to score four times where they had a good opportunity to score, none of them really Bradford's fault. (In addition to the two aforementioned take-aways by the defense, another series ended with four consecutive running plays inside the 10, and there was a blocked field goal.) Tebow was certainly good, but so was Bradford. Florida's defense won the game.

The Fox coverage was so-so at best. Lots of camera shots, replays, and opportunities for clarification by the announcers were missed or completely ignored. And, as you point out, the announcers seriously overplayed the praise of an otherwise praiseworthy Tebow, while neglecting to offer much praise for an otherwise praiseworthy Bradford.

All this is part of a very annoying tendency in sports announcing to jump on the bandwagon of the winner (Hail to the Victor?) rather than offer real insight or value-added observations. Brent Musberger is the all-time champion of this intellectually lazy technique, one that seems to go unnoticed and be satisfactory to much of the public.


ajriederer said...

I generally agree. I don't dislike Tebow at all, although I do have healthy dislike of Urban Meyer and by extension, the program he coaches. (That all stems from some questionable recruiting and "poaching" of recruits signed to other programs. Meyer's not the only one to do it, but he's more flagrant about it than many.) But I digress...back to Tebow.

Unquestionably, he's a tremendous college football player, and appears to be great leader of his team. I have nothing against him, but the coverage of him drives me insane.

As noted, both he and Bradford are great QBs who have had great seasons. Why Marty Brenneman felt the need to almost exclusively praise Tebow and almost ignore Bradford is beyond me. The ridiculous, over the top comments like "Spend 5 or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow and you're a better person for it" become grating after a while. Similar to your comments, Adam, I think this essentially denigrates all of the other players in the game. Tim Tebow is fundamentally a better person than everyone else is the message. Is that warranted? I doubt Mr. Brenneman knows enough to truly evaluate that.

Even worse than that comment was the one near the end of the game, when Florida was trying to run out the clock. After Tebow got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Oklahoma, a comment along the lines of this was made: "That may be the only wrong thing Tebow's done in his entire life." First of all, that's a ridiculous comment simply because all humans are flawed and no one is perfect (which Tebow would be sure to admit, I think, since he is a devout Christian); on face value, the comment implies Tebow has lived a perfect life prior to that penalty. Second, just in the confines of football: what about the two interceptions he threw earlier in the game? What about any other interception, fumble, or pentaly he's ever committed? What about the loss to Ole Miss earlier in the year? What about the 3 or 4 losses last year? While he's a great player, he is certainly not immune to making mistakes or errors on the field.

I don't dislike Tebow, and I don't care one way or another about his religious convictions. In fact, he seems like a very respectful and level-headed young man. What rubs me the wrong way is the overly effusive - and in the case of the title game - completely biased coverage/commentary that he gets.