Fox News, Jason Collins, Tim Tebow and Me

Fox uses my words about a Christian athlete to make a point about gay players. There's a difference.

This is what comes of not obsessively Googling my own name: I missed that Fox News decided to quote me a week or two ago. Take a look at this video:

What’s weird: The quote comes from a column I wrote more than year ago for Scripps Howard News Service, back at the height of the Tim Tebow craze. I wasn’t a fan of Tebow’s “Look At My Awesome God!” antics, and said so.

“Most of us have learned to live with boundaries—to avoid thrusting our religion into arenas where it is unexpected or unwelcome,” I wrote in 2011. What I said next (but which wasn’t quoted on Fox): “If you make a big sale at work, for example, you’re unlikely to bend on knee in front of co-workers and customers to start giving thanks to God.” I still think those words make sense.

But wait? Why resurrect those words now?

Well, because the same day Tim Tebow was released by the New York Jets—disappointing that rather significant segment of the country that loves both Jesus and football very deeply—NBA player Jason Collins came out of the closet, to a lot of acclaim: the cover of Sports Illustrated and the praise of many athletes, entertainers, and politicians. The dissenting voices mostly kept quiet.

By juxtaposing the Collins and Tebow stories—along with my year-old “thrusting” quote—Fox News, it seems, was trying to send a message its audience could agree with:

“Why can’t Jason Collins keep his big gay mouth shut?”

Or maybe, more charitably:

“Look at those hypocritical liberals. They want to celebrate Jason Collins’ choices while silencing Tim Tebow! Oh, how those media types hate good Christians!”

Here’s where you’re wrong, Fox News.

Though he hasn’t played a minute on the court since making his announcement—and, in fact, as a thirtysomething free agent, may not even score a deal this offseason—Collins has never made a big, flamboyant deal about his sexuality on the court. Yes, he wore the No. 98 last year in honor of Matthew Shepard, but nobody actually knew the reason for it until the season was over. You could watch every minute Collins played this year (or in his entire career) and not know he was gay. What’s more, nobody really expects his on-court behavior to change at all.

Every time Tim Tebow scores a touchdown, on the other hand, he gets down on his knees and prays to God. In public. It’s called “Tebowing.” And Tim Tebow has literally trademarked the term.

Which is fine. It’s his right. No disputing that. But honestly, between Collins and Tebow, only one of them deserves the label “flamboyant.”

So I’ll make you a deal, Fox News: If Jason Collins finishes off a dunk or grabs a rebound or makes a nice pass this season and then halts the game so that he can, I dunno, take a few minutes to hold hands with his boyfriend right then and there, then we can have another talk about appropriate workplace behavior in which I might even agree with you.

Until then, let’s not pretend that the basketball player and the football star are playing the same game. They’re not—and it’s Tebow who has been doing all of the thrusting.