For the foreseeable future, Mike Sam and Tim Tebow find themselves interconnected. Although they play the same sport, and even played in the same college football conference, the two worldviews they symbolize couldn’t be more different.
Sam is now out and proud as the country’s first openly homosexual player in its most popular sport. He has become the rallying cry for the progressives and their new tolerance, which essentially is a zero tolerance policy for the old one. Either get with the program or you will be made to care, as ESPN’s exhaustive and heavy-handed promotion of his story this week indicates. Frankly, it’s been hard to tell the difference between sports talk radio and MSNBC the past 7 days. Both basically condescended and sneered at traditional American morality all the same. Suddenly the progressives seem mighty interested in football, when for the past two years they’ve been trying to kill it as too dangerous.
Meanwhile, Tebow is not currently playing, but preparing instead for his new gig on ESPN’s SEC Network this fall. Nevertheless, as the champion of throwback America, his shadow still looms large over this cultural clash. My email inbox and social media interactions are overflowing with angry traditionalists, who see a complete and total double-standard at work here. In their minds, the same mainstream media who seemed to openly be rooting against Tebow, still the only Heisman Trophy winning quarterback to start and win a NFL playoff game since Vinny Testaverde, are the same ones already nominating Sam for the Hall of Fame before he’s even drafted.
Both Tebow and Sam have now become proxies for the two different Americas attempting to fly the same flag. These two Americas represent conflicting value systems, each struggling mightily to peacefully co-exist in a pluralistic age.
Caught between these dueling civilizations is Corporate America, which seems to offend somebody no matter what it does. Cater to the progressives and traditional Americana rises up, as we saw in the recent Duck Dynasty flap. But if Corporate America sides with old school Americana, it risks the charge of the politically correct brigade and its allies in the media.
Into this abyss steps the National Football League.