Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad Kicking Up Controversy

Filed under: In The News, Sports

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow embraces his mother, Pam, during a pre-game ceremony for graduating seniors last year. Credit: Phil Sandlin, Pool / AP

Super Bowl XLIV doesn't kick off until Feb. 7, but an ad featuring college quarterback Tim Tebow and his family is already causing controversy because it contains what some say is an anti-choice message.

The Tebow ad is paid for by conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, using money donated to the group by "very generous friends," according to Gary Schneeberger, a spokesperson for the evangelical nonprofit organization.

The theme of the ad: "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life," according to a report from the Associated Press. Focus on the Family takes a strong anti-abortion stance, and is also against gay marriage. ("God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman," according to its Web site.)

Although the ad will not be shown on television until the Super Bowl, the AP report says the ad will probably tell the story of Tebow's mother, Pam, who was advised to have an abortion after she became ill during a mission trip to the Philippines when she was pregnant with her fifth child.She decided to have the baby, and that baby grew up to be the much lauded college football star. Tebow was the quarterback for the University of Florida Gators; he will enter the NFL draft this year.

The AP story does not mention who has seen the ad other than the people who are placing it. CBS spokesperson Dana McClintock tells the AP that the network had approved the script for the ad. Schneeberger is quoted by the AP as saying that the ad is not "political and controversial" and that when it airs, "those who oppose it will be quite surprised at what the ad is all about."

Tebow has always worn his religious beliefs on his sleeve, or more accurately, on his eye black. While some players have drawn an area code or another message on their eye black (such as Reggie Bush's 619), Tebow often wears a reference to a Biblical passage, as in the photo above ("Heb 12 1-2" refers to Hebrews 12:1-2). The Web site TebowZone lists all the Bible verses that Tebow has worn while playing.

News of the ad has brought protests from groups such as the Women's Media Center (WMC) and the National Organization for Women (NOW). WMC started an online campaign called Stop Anti-Choice Super Bowl Ad, which includes a petition and requests for videos protesting CBS' decision to air the Focus on the Family ad. Some of those videos can be seen in this report from the AP.



In response, CBS has said it will consider other advocacy ads, provided they are "responsibly produced."

While most of the outcry against the ad has to do with its potential message, some are against it simply because they don't want politics with their football. CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel writes that Super Bowl Sunday is "not a day to discuss abortion."

Some are calling CBS' decision to air the ad a victory for free speech, but Super Bowl ads are anything but free. This year, CBS is charging between $2.5 million and $2.8 million for a 30-second spot, according to CBS News. (Super Bowl ad prices are actually down slightly this year. According to a report from TNS Media Intelligence earlier this month, ads on last year's Super Bowl went for $3 million.)

The Super Bowl is traditionally the most watched television program of the year. Last year's game, between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, was seen by an estimated 95.4 million people, according to published reports.

Related: 10 Things Not to Say to a Guy Watching Football, Super Bowl Recipes

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