Last week, former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, appearing on ESPN’s “First Take,” took issue with the state of California passing a bill to allow student-athletes to obtain endorsements without being punished by the NCAA.
The next thing you know, Tebow was called a racist.
Tebow was commenting on the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which states that the athletes can be paid for the use of their name, likeness, and image. The Wall Street Journal noted it “allows college athletes to earn money from their name, image or likeness, through sponsorship or endorsement deals, starting in 2023. The bill also bans schools from preventing athletes from getting compensation or retaining agents.”
I feel like I have a little credibility and knowledge about this because when I was at the University of Florida, I think my jersey was one of the top-selling jerseys around the world. It was like Kobe, LeBron and then I was right behind them. I didn’t make a dollar from it and nor did I want to because I knew going into college what it was all about. I knew going to Florida, my dream school, where I wanted to go, the passion for it and if I could support my team, support my college, support my university, that’s what it’s all about. But now, we’re changing it from “us,” from “we,” from “my university,” from being an alumni where I care, which makes college football and college sports special, to then, “OK, it’s not about us. It’s not about we; it’s just about me.”
And, yes, I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us, but we’re just adding and piling onto that, where it changes what’s special about college football. We turn it into the NFL, where who has the most money, that’s where you go. That’s why people are more passionate about college sports than they are about the NFL. That’s why the stadiums are bigger in college than they are in the NFL; because it’s about your team; it’s about your university; it’s about where my family wanted to go; it’s about where my grandfather had a dream of seeing Florida win an SEC championship; and you’re taking that away. And, you’re taking that away so that young kids can earn a dollar and that’s just not where I feel college football needs to go.
That prompted comments on social media calling Tebow a racist:
One Twitter user tweeted, “Tim Tebow is vainly trying to pull up the ladder after himself like every other white, rich, racist a****** who’s ever lived.”
Another: “I have so many things to say about Tim Tebow, but I’ll leave it at this — He’s a fucking clown, a virgin, and almost certainly a racist. The ‘by their own bootstraps’ kind of racist. And anyone who agrees with him owns a thin blue line flag.”
And yet another: “Tim Tebow is a racist hypocrite. His grandparents and parents were attending schools at a time when Black athletes could not even apply to these schools. What has he done to help poor Black students who are suffering of starvation?”
Dave Zirin, writing in The Nation, opined,
In 1968, Dr. John Carlos said that to be black in the United States is like trying to climb up a ladder while someone above you is constantly stepping on your hands. Tim Tebow is exactly the kind of person who does the stepping … People like Tim Tebow are not trying to preserve tradition. They are trying to preserve power.
But Mike Bianchi, writing in The Orlando Sentinel, countered the attacks on Tebow and fiercely defended him, writing, “Incredibly, Tim Tebow — a man who builds hospitals and orphanages in third-world countries, holds proms worldwide for thousands of special-needs kids and does more for the disadvantaged and underprivileged than any athlete I’ve ever come across —suddenly was being portrayed as the next David Duke.”
Bianchi added, “Why did this have to turn into a racial issue? Why couldn’t it be an amateurism issue? Why couldn’t it be a philosophical issue? Why couldn’t it be about Tebow wanting to preserve what infinitesimal bit of purity college football and basketball still has left?”
Tebow made one mistake on “First Take,'” and it’s the same mistake ESPN analyst and noted NCAA-basher Jay Bilas and his ilk always make. In the debate about whether college athletes should be compensated, they always just brush aside the fact that college athletes are compensated — with an entirely free education that comes with room, board and unlimited perks … When you count room, board, books, tuition, tutors and other miscellaneous expenses, the price of a full-ride, full-cost college scholarship — depending on the school — can be anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 for five years. Translation: Many college-football players are getting a quarter-of-a-million-dollar education absolutely free and clear.
Bianchi concluded, “Tim Tebow is not a racist. He is a role model and a hopeless romantic who believes in what college football should be instead of what it has become.”
Video of Tebow below: