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Gazzolo Column: Tebow, Collins an intresting study in humanity

Last Modified: Monday, May 06, 2013 6:05 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Last week, the media tripped over itself to cover two completely different stories and they did it in two entirely different ways.

Both made for interesting copy.

On one hand Jason Collins was, for the most part, applauded for his personal story of being the first openly gay pro male athlete active in a team sport. Other than his sexuality, Collins is pretty much a non-story. His days in the NBA were numbered before his announcement. Yet, he is getting praise.

Meanwhile, Tim Tebow is still being bashed by members of the fourth estate and is a polarizing figure to fans after the Jets cut him.

Tebow is openly Christian and proclaims to the world this fact.

Truth is, in three NFL seasons Tebow has had more of an impact on his pro sport than Collins has had in a dozen. Tebow led a team to a playoff win. Collins has always been a journeyman at best.

Yet, here we are, two men, one at the end of his career and the other in his prime, being treated differently by the world that watches their every move.

I didn’t really understand this until I read a column by David Jones of www.pennlive.com.

Jones talks about a cartoon he saw that depicted a reporter with a microphone in two different frames. Jones wrote that in the first frame, Tim Tebow is saying, “I’m Christian,” and the reporter has his back turned, replying “Keep it to yourself.” In the second frame, Jason Collins is saying, “I’m gay,” to which the reporter responds with a smile, his microphone thrust up to Collins, “Tell me more, you big hero!”

I looked up the cartoon, which ran in Sunday’s American Press, and sure enough, Jones was right on. It made me wonder.

I also believe Collins did a good thing in the long run by coming out. He will go down as the first of many. I have no problem with that. I like it when athletes are true to themselves.

Yet, I also don’t think Tebow is a bad guy for talking up his own beliefs. Yet, some in the sports media treat the two completely different.

Is Tebow a great NFL quarterback? No. But, he has won big in college and more than some in the pros.

He’s won more playoff games than Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, who is considered an up-and-comer in the league. He’s won just as many as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Matt Ryan combined yet gets far less love.

By the way, he’s won just one less playoff game as Michael Vick as well, yet the media fall all over themselves telling his comeback story and how he rebounded from prison to win back his career.

So, I was left to wonder if it is his religion that has done in Tebow. But wait, Drew Brees talks about being a good family man and has admitted to loving God and nobody attacks him the way they have attacked Tebow.

And Tebow is not the first player to pray on the field. Watch the end of any NFL game and a good number of guys get together from both teams and take a knee to proclaim their faith together at midfield.

So, that can’t be it.

Could be that it is more politically correct these days to take Collins’ side than Tebow’s? That easily could be a factor.

Might also explain a little of the select, non-select battle going on in our own state.

Seems we are eager to say “I got your back if you agree with me.”

Sports is supposed to be above all this. It is supposed to be about the accomplishments made by talented individuals on the field, not what they believe off of it.

Yet, in a country that tears itself apart with different political views and ideas we seem more than willing to do the same thing when it comes to our athletes.

I’ve heard liberal folks love Collins but hate Tebow.

It’s the opposite for conservatives.

I hope it has really not come down to that.

Collins and Tebow do not fit under columns just because we want to put them there. They are not signs of one side winning and another losing.

What they both should be are leaders within our community. They should show us how great it is when we come together, not how easy it is for us to tear each other apart.

Collins made it in professional sports. So has Tebow.

Both beat the odds and became professional athletes, something many of us have only dreamed about.

And because of their beliefs they felt secure enough in the rest of us to let us into their world.

They seem to have far more faith in us than we do in them.

It makes me wonder why the next athlete with something more to add to our world than smelly socks would ever want to stand up and be heard.

How sad for the rest of us.

• • •

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

Posted By: Dwight On: 5/9/2013

Title: I've always wondered why

I've always wondered why Tebow gets such bad press. I'm liberal and not religious but I believe that Tim sets a good example and should not get the bad press. He was treated shabbily by both Denver and New York.

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