Over the past 6-8 weeks, we've seen two frenzies take hold within the national sports media. Number one has been the hanging in effigy of Joe Paterno for crimes committed by a former employee. Number two is the media's outrage that Tim Tebow dare become a successful NFL quarterback. On first glance, these seem to be events that are completely unrelated. However, after thinking on it for a few days, I think that they are more related than we may think.
My reasoning is below the jump.
To understand why these two events are related, we need to discuss American Society and the dominance that the media holds within it. First, it is important to understand that the media is so important to our democratic society that it is the only industry specifically protected in the United States Constitution. For all of the hue and cry we hear about "Big Oil," "Big Tobacco," "Big Pharma," et. al., none of those industries has one scintilla of the power and sway that the Media Industrial Complex has, either individually or collectively. The media is completely unaccountable for anything they do. If you think about it, you know I'm correct. For example: the media whipped up such a frenzy about Duke Lacrosse and how a bunch of privileged, racist white lacrosse players raped a black woman. Later on, it was proven that the woman made it up and that the prosecutor engaged in such misconduct that he went to prison and was disbarred as a result. Yet, I would suggest that the media was just as much to blame as the prosecutor. Yet, no one held ESPN, or its parent company Disney, to account. Similarly, ESPN sits on a tape, which proves conclusively that a Syracuse basketball coach molested children, for nine years. How many more children were molested as a result of ESPN's lack of action? Yet, ESPN/Disney is not held to account. There are many more instances where the media got a story wrong, seemingly intentionally, with no accountability.
Which brings me to the point of my original post, which is the link between the Paterno story and the Tebow story. By all accounts, both Paterno and Tebow are good, decent, honorable men. Both have a strong committment to their families, their faith and their communities. Both try to live their lives with honor, while succeeding beyond the wildest expectations in their chosen field. For years, while the media kept lionizing Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Jimmy Johnson, etc., Paterno simply kept running his clean program, graduating his kids and accumulating undefeated seasons. Paterno, for decades, discredited the media created narrative that, all successful programs cheated. The only seasons in which he was mildly praised was in 82 and 86. The media continued to lie in wait, hoping that there would be some whiff of scandal. This incident, and his role in it (which was so important that it garnered all of SEVEN MINUTES of grand jury testimony), was the media's opportunity to finally stick it to what they considered that sanctimonious, self righteous son of a bitch in East Bumblef*&k Pennsyltucky (my projection). They were not going to miss the opportunity.
Tim Tebow is a much tougher, yet at the same time easier, story. Here you had a very good option quarterback at the University of Florida. He was a good looking, big, athletic guy who did unbelievable things on a football field. However, there was something wrong with him. He was an incredibly outspoken born again Christian, who seemed to live his faith. As we've seen, if the media hates one thing, it is incredibly outspoken Christians who seem to live their faith (see Sarah Palin, Andy Reid, et. al.). However, as the south makes up a large portion of ESPNs viewership for things like football, baseball and NASCAR, they cannot be seen as being anti-southerner or anti-Christian, so they attack Tim Tebow. They say things like "He can't possibly improve as a quarterback," "you can't win with him." Ironically, many of those voices criticizing Tebow are the same criticizing Paterno. Yet, week after week, Tebow proves them wrong, which is the ultimate sin to the media. I would submit that a good portion of them, especially at ESPN, seem to have made it their mission to destroy this young man, not because of his play, but because of his faith and the fact that he has had the audacity to make them look like complete jackasses that wouldn't know a football from a hemrhoid (sp?). One can only imagine their utter glee if Tebow were ever caught in a hotel room with hookers and coke (Michael Irvin), raped a girl (Kobe Bryant/Ben Rothlisburger), killed dogs (Michael Vick), gave some girl a venereal disease (Michael Vick) or killed somebody (Ray Lewis, Donte Stallworth). It would be the greatest day ever in Bristol, CT.
Again, I realize that the connection is tenuous, but I believe it is there. I believe that Paterno and Tebow are being crucified by the national sports media in general, and ESPN in particular, because they are good, decent honorable men who live their values and succeed beyond any wild expectations. I believe that this is so because it shines a light on the failures of their friends (as listed above) and eliminates their own personal excuses regarding their own personal failures. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon, nor is it necessarily limited to sports. The clowns in Washington continue to point fingers at each other, rather than looking at their own failures. Business leaders ask the government/taxpayers to bail them out rather than accept the consequences of their actions. People demonstrate outside of companies because they don't have jobs, instead of cleaning themselves up and going into those companies to fill out an application. The list goes on and on, but the point is simply this: The media seeks to destroy people like Paterno and Tebow because they show us the ugly truth about the society that they have created. That society is one where everything is someone else's fault and everyone is owed something. Paterno and Tebow show us that you can be a morally good person and succeed. For that, it appears, they must be destroyed. After all, it is either they be destroyed or the media be shown to be the low-life, lying, hypocritical bastards they truly are.
I apologize for rambling and hope you all have a very happy and blessed holiday season.