Keep politics away from the Super Bowl

Recently, quite a bit of controversy has erupted over a planned advertisement during the Super Bowl next Sunday. This ad, sponsored by Focus on the Family, a conservative pro-life interest group, features college football star Tim Tebow delivering the group’s message through the most personal of stories: that of his birth—or, rather, how his mother’s choice not to abort despite severe illness obviously paid off. There are many reasons why this advertisement is controversial; but one can argue it certainly has already had its intended effect: People are talking. Regardless of your personal stance on abortion, I hope we can all agree that political messages such as this have no place in sports.

Sports are supposed to be what ultimately unites us as a nation; I for one have gathered with friends of all political affiliations to watch the big game year after year. While we each have our favorite teams, we are all united by the game and the fact that for a few hours all we need to concern ourselves with is who wins and who loses; we get caught up in the game and almost all other troubles just slip away. It gives us a nice little break from the chaos of our everyday lives. In addition, Super Bowl Sunday is partly known for its mostly lighthearted advertisements; who doesn’t look forward to seeing what wacky marketing ploys various corporations have in store for us this weekend? A serious political message has no place in this, as it just does not fit the tone of the afternoon.

CBS, the network airing the game and thus responsible for all advertisements, has claimed, according to the Huffington Post on Jan. 25, that “there was nothing political or controversial about the ad.” This is about as ignorant as one can get; I cannot think of a more blatant political or controversial message than one taking sides in the abortion debate. If the script did not catch their attention, why didn’t the use of Tebow make it clearer? Tim Tebow has a lot of star power due to his run as quarterback at Florida, and people are going to listen. In fact, I have to wonder if CBS is not trying to advance an agenda of its own—this is not the first time their actions involving Super Bowl ads have sparked controversy. According to that same Huffington Post article, CBS used its internal policies to justify not airing an advertisement by a mainstream church, the United Church of Christ, that advocated tolerance and openness toward gays and lesbians back in 2004, and various news sources state that the network has rejected a pro-gay marriage ad this year as well.

I can understand the network’s policy against ads on controversial subjects, as long as it is enforced evenly. The kind of hypocrisy that CBS has shown is inexcusable; if a potentially controversial liberal advertisement is rejected on the basis of being political or controversial, a conservative ad should be, too.  While I love politics just a bit more than the average person, even I need a break from it now and then. Freedom of speech is one of our country’s basic principles, but can we please keep political agendas out of our sporting events?

Charles is a freshman in Art & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

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