NCAAF  > General NCAAF  > Mandell's Column of Jan. 13, 2009 and Misguided Accountability Toward Fans
January 15, 2009, 11:55 AM
I thought Stewart Mandel as balanced on college football and the media, but in his defense of Florida???s Tim Tebow he points an accusing finger at fans and readers.

Mandel: "I'm guessing everything they said (about Tebow) is absolutely true."

He admits not watching the FOX telecast of the BCS championship game and claims not to have an opinion on the performance of FOX???s Brennamen and Davis, but then adds his opinion anyway. It is not that people disagreed with Brennamen and Davis, only their presentation. Watch the telecast, Mandell, then offer an opinion. Without understanding the context of the fans??? reaction his statement (above) is misguided.

Mandell: "One of the more bothersome trends I've noticed among college fans in recent years is the inevitable backlash occurring toward pretty much any great team or player as soon as people feel said team/player receives too much "hype." Rather than celebrate a player's greatness, we feel the need to tear him down. Why do we do this?"

People in glass houses should not throw stones. How often do the media elevate personalities only to enthusiastically report scandals? How often do the media hype players only to eagerly write of their demise (see O.J. Simpson)? Perhaps the media likes to create a simmering pot waiting for scandal to tip it over?

Mandell: "I understand in today's age of media overkill, the most popular players get an extraordinary amount of coverage, and I understand we media types tend to throw hyperbole around too generously. But to anyone who's tired of reading or hearing about Tebow's on- and off-field greatness, I ask you: Who/what would you rather hear about instead?...I'll admit it: I'm fully aboard the Tim Tebow bandwagon.In 10 years of covering this sport, I've never had so much fun watching a guy play--and I think it's because of just how much fun he seems to be having."

Mandell asked if readers prefer to hear of the bad over the good. People want to hear of the likes of Tebow, but from a healthy perspective that does not border on worship. If the media elevates the players to standards inconceivable for anyone to maintain then it is only natural that the fall from the precipice will be significantly more damaging. Mandell may understand the hype, but he also contributes to it although I suspect he would claim he is giving the public what they asked.

Mandell: "But that won't stop me from saying the following: Tebow is college football's Michael Jordan. Never in my lifetime has a player become the undisputed face of the sport..Much like M.J., he's become a role model for millions of kids. And just like M.J., he never ceases to amaze with his ability to take over a game."

Mandell???s claim that Tebow is college football???s Jordan is probably accurate, but exercise caution. Florida???s rivals demonstrate a significantly more deep-rooted passion for their teams compared to NBA loyalty. I would guess that, with the exception of fans like Spike Lee, most fans are fairly ambivalent toward the NBA in comparison to their college teams. It is easy to like Jordan when you are luke warm about the rest of the NBA and altogether different to cheer for Tebow when he is doing the gator chomp in the face of a player on your team.

Mandell: "Call me cheesy, but I thought the purposefully drawn-out announcement of his return at Florida's championship rally last Sunday was -- for lack of a better word -- awesome. It was just so Tebow. Like I said, the guy always seems like he's having the time of his life, and that was yet another example of him having some fun. You can tell he genuinely enjoys energizing the fans."

Would Mandell give other athletes a free pass for grandstanding?

In closing, Mandell should know not to chastise anyone who fails to demonstrate his opinionated passion for Tebow. Like Mandell, we are entitled to our opinions.

Good luck for Tebow in 2009 and much success for his future.

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