July 24, 2009

Tim Tebow is the University of Florida’s superstar, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who has a lengthy list of accomplishments. During games, the outspoken and devout Christian has been known to wear painted Scripture references on his face.

This week during a news conference, FanHouse’s Clay Travis mentioned Tebow’s religion and asked him if he is saving himself for marriage. Tebow laughed and said “Yes I am.”

Was the question off limits?

Travis blogged about his reasoning behind asking the question:

“I asked because I believe it’s newsworthy and because, believe it or not, I thought Tim Tebow would answer the question by saying: “Yes, I am.” Which is exactly what he did.

“Why did I believe this? Because Tebow lives his faith. And I believe that living his faith is not artificial, he’s not pretending to be something he’s not. Further, I don’t believe that saving yourself for marriage is something to hide from. Not in the evangelical Christian faith that Tim Tebow practices in a Southern church and not in the evangelistic Southern church where I was raised.”

Tebow laughed and told reporters he was ready for the question. It didn’t seem to surprise him. But that’s not the point.

I can imagine a setting in which the question would have been appropriate. If the reporter had been sitting one-on-one with Tebow and told him that he was going to ask some personal questions having nothing to do with college football, Tebow could have had more forewarning.

But in a news conference, not answering an overly nosy question could be the same as answering it. Saying “it’s none of your business” seems a lot like saying “I am guilty but I won’t confirm it.”

If Tebow had brought up his faith during the news conference, or if he had launched an abstinence campaign, the question would have been fair game. But this was SEC Media Day, and that’s the wrong time and the wrong place to bring up a player’s sex life.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
Al Tompkins

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