Football, faith and the media

Well, I finally got around to seeing The Blind Side.  For those unfamiliar with the movie, it retells the true story of Michael Oher, a profoundly disadvantaged black boy who ended up as a scholarship student at a Christian academy in Memphis.  Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, parents at the school, stumbled across him, and eventually took him into their home and family.  With the Tuohy family’s help, he graduated from high school, went to Ole Miss on a football scholarship, and was eventually a first round NFL draft pick.  You can read his story in the New York Times article that served as the basis for the movie.

I have to say here and now that I really dislike most new movies that I see.  I find them boring, and the values usually offend me.  My husband is resigned to the fact that there’s a 90% likelihood that I’ll walk out on any movie within the first 10 minutes.  But I sat and watched The Blind Side to the end, including the credits.  It’s that rare story of good people doing good things.  With the exception of a single jerky football player and the drug dealers from Michael’s old neighborhood, the movie shows people motivated to do well for a child who was truly lost in the system.

As many of you already know, the movie makes no bones about the Christian values driving those who got involved in Oher’s life.  A Christian academy took Michael in (admittedly with something of an eye to his football potential), and Leigh Anne explicitly viewed her acts through the lens of Christian charity.   While the movie doesn’t preach Christian doctrine, it does say something rare in Hollywood movies:  Christians are good people and they are not bigots, even Southern Christians.

Others who have seen the movie (SPOILER ALERT) have noted that Hollywood did manage to get in a few anti-Republican digs, but they were minimal.  When Leigh Ann, frustrated with an endless line at a government office asks the rude, gum-chewing clerk who’s in charge, the clerk points to a picture of George Bush.  Anyone who isn’t half dead realizes, of course, that the United States President is not directly in charge of the lackadaisical behavior at a Memphis government office.  Leigh Ann just ignores the foolish dig and powers on ahead.

The biggest “political” moment in the movie comes when Miss Sue, a private tutor played by Kathy Bates, makes a confession to Leigh Ann during her job interview:  She’s a Democrat.

I think the movie-makers were trying to show that it’s scary, and that one needs to be secretive, in order to be a Democrat in Republican country.  Leigh Ann’s response, however, was pitch-perfect, and I know this because I was a Democrat in Southern Republican country.  She looks blank (“why would someone make a big deal about this confession?”), mutters a polite word, and moves on.  No diatribes, no insults.  It’s very real, and it says something about both Democratic expectations and Republican realities.  (SPOILER ALERT OVER.)

Even though I saw the movie a couple of days ago, I was thinking of it today because of Stuart Schwartz’s article about the fear and loathing the mainstream sports media feels towards Tim Tebow.  (Don Quixote, who knows his sports, read the article and he says that, while Schwartz misunderstands some of the jabs as being aimed at Tebow’s faith rather than his slightly goofy football, the gist of the article is correct.)  Here’s a flavor of what Schwartz has to say about the media’s approach to an overtly Christian NFL player (hyperlinks omitted):

Get accused twice of rape (Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh), repeatedly abuse your wife (Michael Pittman, Tampa Bay), regularly strangle and drown hapless dogs (Michael Vick, Atlanta)? Ah, well, boys will be boys, it is society’s fault — and besides, women and dogs don’t wear Super Bowl rings. But pray, work with the poor, and refuse to engage in casual sex — there’s something seriously wrong with you. Or, as one Sports Illustrated writer put it, you are a certified “wackdo.”


With rare exception (Denver Post columnist Woody Paige predicted stardom, maintaining that murder and mayhem are not the only qualifications for NFL success), the journalists have delighted in disparaging the Tebows as too “Christiany,” a journalistic synonym for “fascist.” You know, the kind of people whose vocal love for Jesus conjures up thoughts of a “Nazi rally,” as the largest Boston sports radio station described a family gathering.


Positively un-NFL, so much so that one front-office executive announced to Yahoo Sports that “I don’t want any part of him” and his nutty views. Yahoo Sports columnist Les Carpenter, reacting to this, noted that Tebow, “known for his goodness[,] has actually drawn a more visceral reaction [from the NFL and sports journalism establishment] than those players who are at their core, truly bad.”

But Tebow continues being Tebow. He responds with good-natured humor to a jeering press that accuses him of being a virgin with a simple statement: “Yes, I am.” And he goes on to explain the importance of commitment and marriage and ends with noting the discomfort in the room: “I think y’all are stunned right now.”

…To which Pro Sports Daily responded “Don’t be shocked if some of these guys want to take him out and kill the legend that is Tim Tebow.” NCAA Football Fanhouse expressed dismay that “the most popular player in SEC history is saving himself for marriage.” “Unbelievable” when he can have any girl he wants.

What is wrong with this guy? The Washington Post brought in professional atheist Richard Dawkins to reassure its readers that the NFL has nothing to fear. Too many hits from the blind side did not produce this “dummy.”

There is something very wrong with a milieu that routinely excuses violence and vice, and that is genuinely frightened of goodness, the same goodness that saw Michael Oher rescued from an abysmal vacuum of poverty and neglect.

You know that I like matching things up.  I look for articles and stories that provide stark contrasts or that reinforce each other.  Here, we have two stories about faith.  One about its power, and the other about the fear it inspires.

I’m not a person of faith.  I think it would be wonderful and comforting to believe in God, but I don’t.

I’m also not a fool.  I don’t disc0unt the notion of God, because there is too much that neither I, nor anyone else, can explain or understand.  To deny God’s existence is so audacious an act, I would basically be arrogating God-like status for myself.  My cautious view, lying in a gray zone that encompasses atheism and agnosticism is, as I often say to the children, that something preceded the Big Bang.

Mostly, though, regardless of my personal religious views, I’m someone who likes American Christians (by which I mean those people who worship God, not those who worship liberalism as shaped through PC churches that periodically make a nominal nod in the Bible’s direction).  In my experience — and I lived in the American South when I was a Jewish atheist Democrat — American Christians are truly good people.

Yeah, sure there are the Sunday Christians who practice fraud on Monday, and there are the ones who are racists or antisemites, but that’s not the face of the vast majority of American Christians.  Their faces are the same face that the Tuohys and the Tebows show:  hard-working, committed to traditional morality, generous with hearts and homes, and deeply aware of the value of life.  This last — this reverence for life — is not just focused on the abortion issue.  Instead, it manifests itself as a generalized belief that ordinary people are worthy.  People aren’t cogs, or PC labels, but individuals, imbued with a spirit that deserves respect.

I think it is this respect for the individual that is so frightening to the liberal establishment.  Individualism and Big Government are antithetical.  As, England, my favorite socialist example, shows, once Big Government takes over the functions individuals once served (as parents, employers, caregivers, etc.), hard-work, morality, and generosity fly out the door. You end up with a country that veers wildly between excessively tight control (those kumquats had better be the right size) and complete anarchy (as demonstrated by England’s soaring alcoholism, assault, murder, child abuse, SDT, and illegitimate children statistics).

Worse, those countries that have moved beyond England into hard-core Communism demonstrate that, once the collective is transcendent, the individual has no value at all.  Even as government benefits are being showered on the collective (free homes, free health care, free whatever), the individual is being sent to gulags and concentration camps.

I know that I’ve traveled a long way from a surprisingly sweet and good Hollywood movie to the gas chambers, but it is a continuum.  As the media’s relentless attacks on Tebow’s fierce individualism show, the Left fully understands that people like Tebow and the Tuohys undermine the hegemony it seeks.  And as ordinary Americans need to understand, the utopian hegemony the media imagines will arise when the Tebows are gone, is in reality a totalitarian world devoid of all human kindness.

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  • Danny Lemieux

    I’m not a person of faith.  I think it would be wonderful and comforting to believe in God, but I don’t.

    -giggle – sure, OK!

  • Ymarsakar

    The sportscasters are not only idiots, they are wannabe cultists. They just want to lap up the KoolAid. They have no filters. They have no inherent value of themselves.
    If women throw themselves at them, they see it as great, because in their heart of heart’s, they know that they don’t deserve the attention of real people. Thus it validates their own existence when women accept them.
    Tebow needs no validation from random people. Unlike this cheap, decadent, and weak civilization revolving around huge money and indiscriminate sex, inner strength requires that one have value. And one has value because one is rare and nobody has equal access just because they came off the streets.
    Tebow has essentially leveled up to the point where he has value and he knows it. You can’t just walk off the street and look hot to have the privilege of being with him. You have to have that “something” else. This elevates the value of the man but also that of the woman because women now start to understand that their body isn’t the only thing desired in the market place by high status males.
    But these people with money in Hollywood and sports? Their souls have decayed. And they seek to corrupt the rest of us because their misery loves company.
    Unfortunately for them, on a personal level, the power equation goes my way. On an institutional level, they can command more resources, but they lack mental fortitude, emotional strength, and the focus of a true man. They are cultists and they follow their cult of sex and money. That is all they are. Their favorite defense mechanism of telling those with high values that their values are invalidated, de-legitimatized, because they can’t get any woman they want, doesn’t work here. And they know it.
    They are nothing but crabs in a bucket. Pulling any other crab down and preventing it from escaping. Well, I’m not a crab. I’m a human. And we have things called brains. And if a crab is weighing me down, I’ll simply smash it with the force of 100 pounds with my foot. Next I’ll go get my flamethrower and boil them in their own shells, those spineless socialites talking trash and smack on television. They embody the worst elements of the Left. And I would dearly love to purge them all from existence. Sonzaiyo

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  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, Book, the fact that you can’t stand modern propaganda just means you have good filters in place. Keep up the good work. We wouldn’t want you swallowed back up by the Leftist beast, yanno.

    The link to my blog contains the PS addendum of information on alpha vs beta males.

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  • Ymarsakar

    P.S. Another thing. Anime is turning into a Japanese semi-cultural conquest of English. It is as accepted as pop culture here in the US, almost, amongst the newest generation the same as  Britney Spears was in the 90s or so. The advent of the internet means many many people now know of the phenomenon and have watched at least one anime series.
    Because the entertainment medium caters to 120 some odd million people in Japan, minus the people beyond 50-60, anime fans are attracted to many different things. Some people may like Twilight, aka chick flicks. Others may like ecchi. Others prefer drama, space opera, mysteries, sports, and so forth.
    This leads to my original point I wanted to communicate. If you don’t like how modern Hollywood is influencing your kids, get them addicted on anime. Get em while they are young. This way you can push them towards anime with themes or values that you like, while the peer group/pressure of their school life will not get in your way but actually reinforce it because it is something their peers will also be getting into soon if they have not already.

  • Spartacus

    “My husband is resigned to the fact that there’s a 90% likelihood that I’ll walk out on any movie within the first 10 minutes.”
    Michael Medved has remarked that a number of people have expressed good-natured envy at the fact that he has a job watching movies.  His response is that while, yes, he gets to watch quite a number of good movies, he also has to watch an even larger number of bad ones, to the bitter end.  Were you to become a professional movie critic, you would bring a refreshingly unique perspective to the business, but it doesn’t sound like this would be a wise career change!  =)

  • Bookworm

    I’d give movie “minute ratings.”  Horrible movie:  “I lasted less than 10 minutes.”  The movie was okay:  “I made it through 45 minutes.”  Loved it:  “Watched the whole 120.”

  • 11B40

    A while back, after the governmentally-mandated analog-to-digital TV conversion, I started to received San Francisco Bay area channel 26-3 over-the-air.  (No shortage of hyphens at my house.)  It broadcasts KBS, the Korean Broadcasting System (?).  I have been pleasantly surprised by some of its English-subtitled programming.   While its production values are very much up-to-date (again, with the hyphens), it seems to be able to maintain an overt link to traditional Koreans values like the importance of family, respect for elders, the importance of working hard, and the ability to delay gratification.  All told, it harkens back to the American TV of the ’50s and early ’60s and it’s nice to be spared the required leftist propaganda that now seems to be a part of most American TV dramas.
    KBS, like many Asian stations, also broadcasts many historical dramas which deal with Korea’s much-longer-than-America’s history, though with what degree of accuracy I wouldn’t hazard a guess. They deal with all the many political divisions within ancient Korea and the balancing act of being located between China and Japan.  One thing that surprised me was the prominent involvement of women in all the court intrigues.  Dragon Ladies, my god, who would have thought it.

  • suek

    >>Dragon Ladies, my god, who would have thought it.>>
    It shouldn’t surprise you – the less power, more intrigue.  Women in China have _no_ power – as with muslim women.  If they have any manipulative ability, intrigue has to be their game.  Ala Sheherezade…which is certainly fictional, but also probably based on truth to a certain extent.  And of course, there are always those men who have all the power except the power to control their own desires – which makes them vulnerable to those who possess that which they desire…those Dragon Ladies…!

  • David Foster

    Saw the movie a couple of months ago, and agree with your comments. I do have to note that the movie was consistent with one standard Hollywood meme: it presented the husband as pretty passive & more or less led around by the nose by his wife.
    Dude built a pretty substantial business; couldn’t have been all *that* passive.

  • suek

    >>Dude built a pretty substantial business; couldn’t have been all *that* passive.>>
    You may be right – I haven’t seen the film – but I’d guess you’re talking about a “traditional” marriage and different areas of dominance…his and hers, in other words.  He runs the business, she runs the household.  Sometimes there’s a conflict, but usually it’s just a division of labor that results in neither having to carry the whole load.  Do they show him at his business?

  • David Foster

    Didn’t show him at his business, IIRC; definitely showed her doing things related to *her* business (interior decorating)

  • garyp

    I grew up in the small town South (50’s-60’s) when church (and family) was the center of our lives.  Hard to believe how much the world has changed–and mostly for the worse.
    One thing I remember is the first Super Bowl.  They advertised it as “Super Sunday.”  We got a sermon on that issue, let me tell you.
    I am also a agnostic, Bookworm, and I also wish I believed in God, especially now when death is a constant companion.  However, intellectual integrity is also important so Pascal’s wager is not for me.
    However, I will say that though my illness,  I have developed a new found appreciation of how kind and good most people are, especially religious people.  If given the option, I would rather live in a community that was 100% religious than one that was 100% atheist.
    The irritating thing about atheists (Dawkins especially) is that they constantly argue that science can prove there is no God.  As if the study of Nature can tell you anything about the Supernatural.  By definition it cannot.  Evolution, the Big Bang, etc. may be (and probably are) correct.  They teach us about the natural world but nothing about the devine.
    I think that it would behoove us all to be humble, but strong in our beliefs.  If you believe in God, hold tight to that belief but do most of your praying in the closet (as Jesus recommended).  Let God’s light shine through how you live your life, you will will win more converts with acts than words. 
    If you do not believe in God, you can still be respectful of people of faith, especially those that live their faith every day (like the family in Blindside).  Don’t go around loudly proclaiming the non-existence of God as a fact, when it is can never be proved.  It only shows your ignorance of the issue and annoys others. 
    Indeed, to my mind, it is a great cruelty to try to remove a person’s faith because it can be a great comfort in times of trouble and often helps people to lead better, and happier, lives.
    Only a small man would want to destroy the faith of others simply to show that they are a better snake oil salesman than the Elmer Gantry’s of the world.  I think this smallness also explains the attacks on high profile Christians (such as Tebow).  You have to declare him “nuts” or admit that he is a better, more disciplined person than you.  If you have ever been around alcoholics, they can’t stand for someone in their party to not drink (or even drink moderately).  They know they are destroying their lives and they don’t want to admit that they (or anyone else) could do any better.
    Christianity saved western civilization once and may do it again.  Atheism has never helped anyone.  Keep that in mind when you laugh at Christians or other people following  faiths that encourage kindness, responsibility and self-restraint.  Even if they are wrong about God, they have probably done more good in the world than the average Atheist.

  • srvd8101

    The movie is based upon the book by Michael Lewis. I have it and it is excellent. There are many things in the book that the movie takes out of order or attributes certain lines to those who did not speak them. But this is all to save time and make the movie more about the main characters. Artistic license is what I believe it is called and I am not offended. The movie stays true to the book.

    As a born again Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I can say the movie is not offensive in the least. The book is a little offensive but… I can live with the verbal back-slides (swearing) as I have the occasional one myself.

    Book I found you through listening to Rush and I read you as often as my schedule allows. I am currently in my last semester prior to my graduation from Saint Leo University as a 47 year old baccalaureate student. I am planning to go to semenary for my masters but that is a few years away. This is a first time comment and may be my last.

    Thank you for this post it was wonderful.

    srvd8101 (Served 1981-2001 United States Army)

  • suek

    For you who can’t “believe”…
    I think there are two Gods, in a sense.  The first is the one that can’t be denied to some extent – the “Something” that must have been the original Creator.  Science can’t prove He doesn’t exist, because you cannot prove a negative – even if we can’t prove the positive.  I also don’t think anyone can truly view the immensity of the universe without having that sense of smallness that we are.  And because of that sense of smallness, I think the second God is the one _you_ don’t believe…that is, the personal God who cares about each of us – the one who could send a Savior to teach us that that Immensity _does_ in fact care.   And you can’t believe that He does.
    I can understand that.

  • Oldflyer

    I have not seen the movie. I have seen the family on TV a few times.  My impression is that she is a dynamo, and he is a quieter type who supports what she does.  To say she dominates is quite possibly a stretch.  I frequently look at the Palins, and wonder about the dynamic. Of one thing I am fairly certain; no one dominates Todd.  But, he is strong enough to let her do her thing, and support her at every step.
    I am always interested in comment about Tim Tebow.  As a life-long Florida Gator fan, I have followed his career closely.  I am convinced that he is completely authentic, as is has family. He gets an awful lot of hype, too much for most people.  On the other hand, he does so many spontaneous things to help people, that are little noted.   A lot of people will be hoping that he falters, but I would be surprised.  BTW, read today that he has turned down at least one 7 figure endorsement contract because fulfilling the requirements would detract from his football preparations.

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  • gpc31


    I too think that Tebow is authentic and a good “character guy” and a winner to boot.

    I wish him nothing but professional success (seems to me that he’s already achieved a fair level of personal success).

    The question is simply whether he has the technical skills to succeed as a NFL QB.  I don’t know.

    BTW, the movie was great and the book was too — well worth reading.  Michael Lewis has made a career out of telling charming stories about hidden value as revealed by quirky protaganists.  Kind of a character arbitrage, if you will. 

  • Earl

    Saw the movie and loved it.
    Wife is a dynamo, and the man is quiet and strong – no need to fight to prove anything.  We saw a lot of this in the south, if you want to know the truth.
    We LOVED living in the Bible belt…felt a lot like Northern California in the ’50s and ’60s to me.
    Finally, success is the best revenge — guess whose jersey is the top-selling among every player in the NFL?
    Yep….Tim Tebow, and before he has played a single down.
    Sometimes virtue is its own reward, and other times, it provides extra benefits.
    I’m rooting for Tim Tebow.