Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly has an "eyebrow-raising" pro-choice background for someone who has become the public face of such a famously Catholic school. I got that news from an influential Christian news magazine. And I'm offended.
Meanwhile, next month's telecast of the Super Bowl on CBS will unveil a 30-second pro-life commercial featuring Florida quarterback Tim Tebow that will recall how his mother was ill during that pregnancy but ignored a doctor's recommendation to have an abortion. I got that news right here at CBSSports.com. And I'm offended.
|Are Brian Kelly and Tim Tebow on opposite sides of the abortion debate? Do you really care? (AP)|
But leave my football alone.
It'll never happen, of course. Leave my football alone? What a naïve stance for me to take. Football is a window into this country's soul, which means every peeping tom in politics wants to sneak a peek and then maybe, since they're already there, leave behind one of their leaflets.
But we're the ones stuck with the litter. You, me, anyone who follows football because we enjoy, you know, football. We have to sift through all that other crap.
If you're a Notre Dame fan, you've been hearing about Brian Kelly's abortion stance since he was identified as the leading candidate to replace Charlie Weis back in early December.
Apparently Kelly, in another lifetime, worked on Gary Hart's presidential candidacy in 1984. Gary Hart was a democrat, you know. A liberal! And they're in favor of abortion! It's an outrage, for some people, and those people got good and outraged while Kelly's name was being bantered about. Maybe they still are outraged, if you believe World Magazine, one of the country's leading religious publications, which reported on the story a few days ago and concluded that Notre Dame had "set aside moral standards for the sake of athletic success."
Firing Charlie Weis with six years left on his contract? Collecting more than $10 million in donations from boosters -- millions that could have refurbished a run-down public school in any urban city in America? All of that was morally defensible, apparently.
We're stupid, you know that? The things we as a society decide to bicker about. We're going to worry whether Brian Kelly is pro-life? I'll tell you what he is. He's pro-touchdown. That's why Notre Dame hired him. That's why you'll watch his team play. So that's all that should matter.
But it's not all that matters, because we're stupid. We worry about things that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. And next month, the issue at hand will be the Super Bowl. If you don't care about football, fine -- don't watch it. Close to 100 million people will watch (right here on CBS!), but if sports isn't your thing, change the channel. If you're conservative, watch Fox News. If you're liberal, go to MSNBC. I don't care what you are, just do your thing. Be happy.
But there are going to be about 100 million of us who won't be happy for 30 seconds of the Super Bowl. That'll happen during that half-minute when we're subjected to the pro-life advertisement featuring Tebow, which was put together by the evangelical Christian organization Focus on the Family.
Apparently the commercial has a beautiful, undeniable message. Tebow's mother suffered a life-threatening infection during that pregnancy, and doctors advised her to abort the baby. She didn't. She named him Tim. Just typing this paragraph gives me goose bumps. The commercial might just make me cry.
Still, I don't want to see. Not during the damn Super Bowl. And I'm not complaining about the ad because it's anti-abortion and I'm not. I'm complaining about the ad because it's pro-politics. And I'm not. Not on Super Sunday. If you're a sports fan, and I am, that's the holiest day of the year. That's a day for five hours of football pregame shows and four hours of football game and three hours of postgame football analysis. That's a day for football addicts to gorge themselves to the gills on football.
It's not a day to discuss abortion. For it, against it, I don't care what you are. On Super Sunday, I don't care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion.
Sometimes, football and politics intersect and the connection is unavoidable. The NFL has the Rooney Rule, which makes it illegal for teams to hire a coach or top executive without interviewing a minority. You can debate the necessity of that rule all day long, and lots of you did after I wrote on it a few weeks back, but the rule is real. It exists, and it impacts the NFL. So it's fair game.
But abortion? On Super Sunday? That's not fair, and part of me is disappointed with CBS for accepting the advertisement. Part of me, though, loves it. I read your e-mails. I see your message boards. You think CBS is a haven of leftists, but it'll be hard to say that with a straight face after CBS allows Focus on the Family to purchase coveted ad space to broadcast an obviously anti-liberal message during the most-watched TV show of the year.
But the rest of me isn't happy that CBS is putting this ad on the air. I've done this before, gone against my own company. I thought Kimbo Slice was bad for the sport of mixed martial arts before CBS put him on the air in October 2008. I called SEC football overrated in October 2009 even as CBS was paying about $55 million to televise the league that season.
But this stuff makes me queasy. I don't know who will be Brian Kelly's first quarterback at Notre Dame, but I know how Kelly feels about abortion. I don't know where or even at what position Tim Tebow will play in the NFL, but I know how he feels about abortion.
I don't want to know. I don't care. Can we please talk about football?