I’ve been having a really hard time liking my favorite football team, for the past few months now. That team would be the New York Jets, and my struggle with them began with their acquiring of Tim Tebow. I despise Tim Tebow. He is the poster child of a movement that I hate. The movement of privileged white men who oppose gay marriage and abortion rights. Who use the Bible as leverage to support these ideals and want nothing more then to appear as Americas darlings.
So Tebow has come to New York and you know what? The hype surrounding him could be, in all respects Should be so much bigger. Which is strange for a city who so heavily promotes their teams. A walk through the subway’s here in New York, shows a cities boastful showing off of The Brooklyn Nets. Every summer brings a huge influx of everything tennis related. US Open ads are literally everywhere. This city breathes sports. New York is synonymous with amazing sports moments. It is not A city where athletes play it is the city of legends. The city of Babe Ruth, of Walt Frazier, a town where even our minor league baseball team sells out all of their games. Our most favorite players here surpass normal celebrity, they are heroes. Some would even say gods.
So why is it that a young quarterback has come to this huge stage and not seen nearly the amount of attention as say Stoudemaire did when he came to the Knicks? Tebow has definitely seen his fair share of attention. But it hasn’t been worship like. The Jets have always been a team fighting to step out of the Giants shadow. Forced to play in a stadium that didn’t even bear their name season after season the Jets finally have their equal field rights at Met Life stadium. And now they have a celebrity quarterback. Except, where is the cities contagious excitement?
New York is a liberal beacon. Our mayor is one of the strongest voices in the fight for gay marriage equality. Our council woman Christine Quinn just married her partner. Nuptials that the city of New York were invited to take part in seen in ads run by the MTA on our subways. We are a city that supports equal rights. We have one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world. So maybe just maybe it is safe to assume, safe to make the correlation, that someone who would bring the status of a superstar to any other city, here has gone overlooked due to their views on something most of us accept and uphold.
I haven’t heard anyone directly come out and say that they don’t give a shit about Tebow coming here due to him being a flagrant showboat and bible thumping homophobic. Except one doesn’t hear too many New Yorkers gushing about him. On the sports pages yes, Tebow is of course being talked about, but even there he isn’t being hailed.
As a sports fan you have to get used to favorite player leaving your team (see Jeremy Lin) and players who you’ve hated for years magically sporting your favorite teams uniform. Sports franchises are financial bull dogs more than anything else. A few years ago my Yankees took on Johnny Damon. A former Boston Red Sox player who I had spent years hating. He came to New York with a shaved face and new attitude. And you know what? I almost kind of sort of liked him. Us sports fans are fickle lovers, we have to be. A players relationship with a sports team can end faster then a relationship with a Kardashin. The players with hero power will inevitably stay put. Derek Jeter will no doubt die in a Yankees uniform.
The sports world has never been known as an accepting place for LGBT folk; whether it be fans screaming homophobic slurs at players and officials to athletes themselves muttering them to each other on the court, In recent years there has been a massive shift in players stepping up and coming out in support of gay equality. The yin to Tim Tebow’s yang is Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, whose tweets often demand gay rights and that this country move towards acceptance to all. He won’t back down or be silenced either. In a recent letter he was asked by Maryland politicians to silence his stance on the issue of gay marriage. Citing that they were “appalled” by his strong views on the matter. Essentially they told him to shut up, which he thankfully has promised not to do.
Seeing a straight male athlete come out so strongly for gay marriage and equality gives so much hope to the future evolution of athletes opinions on gays. Kids and adults alike look up to sports giants. They live vicariously through them. Sports give fans a feelings of hope, they offer an escape from the mundane. Athletes can do the unimaginable, they spend their careers trying to break records, trying to stay relevant, trying (most of them anyway) to stay loved by their fans. So, what if athletes start playing to more and more openly gay fans? Without fans sports franchises are nothing. The athletes will have to stay on their biggest supporters good sides. They will have to face the reality that society is moving towards total acceptance of the gay community. It simply will not be ok for a player like Tebow to say he doesn’t approve of gay marriage. His fans simply won’t stand for it. Not with players like Ayanbadejo around advocating for his gay fans. Tebow couldn’t step into a press conference and say that he won’t throw passes to his black teammates. Sixty years ago? Yes. Today? Absolutely not. There is not question in my mind that 60 years from today a player like Tim Tebow will not be able to exist in the sports world touting his Christian elitist and homophobic views. But, we do not have time machines. We must get through the Tebow’s the same way we got through Brown vs. The Board of Education and Roe vs. Wade. Change takes time. Here in New York our views are rapidly more futuristic then in other parts of the country. Hopefully this football season will be quick. Tebow will let the Jets down, and be traded off to a team in the Midwest where he will be welcomed with open arms. Either that or he can retire from the game all together, he would I’m sure be at home in the one other space where where one can be both extremely successful and be a massive bigot: politics.