Tim Tebow And The Hazards Of Celebrity Endorsement

todayFebruary 27, 2013

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Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – With freedom of speech comes responsibility of speech as well, obedience to the unenforceable.  It’s far better to censor yourself and remove any controversy that can arise than it is to have someone remove it for you via economic pressure.  Check out today’s transcript for the rest…


Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

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Mike:  Fort Worth Star Telegram has this story about how Tebow bailed on Reverend or Dr. Jeffress and the appearance he was going to make at the church.  Why did he do it?  If he’s going to be a martyr for his faith, and if there are indications that he may actually agree with Jeffress, why would he throw Jeffress under the bus?  The answer is quite simple.  If he goes and hangs out in Jeffress’s church, Nike is not going to come calling.  If he goes and hangs out in Jeffress’s church, he actually will martyr himself.  Gatorade is not going to come calling.  That’s how the story is supposed to go.

I read the column and I don’t know that I agree with everything that Engel has written, but I think he makes some provocative points about star athletes and how in 2013 there is not going to be a star athlete that is going to have a cause or any form of political activism that’s going to become his own and is going to be larger than he or she.  That’s just not going to happen.  We’re Americans.  We’re not going to let that happen.  You’re allowed to have an opinion until we tell you we’re tired of hearing it, in other words.

AG:  I thought it was an interesting article.  The point of what Engel wrote, “What I appreciated about Tebow was his willingness to stand by views, even the ones I didn’t share.  By stating his opinions, he often inspired, or at the least made some people think about a few things they previously may not have considered.”  It’s hard with you and I working in an industry where you want to be able to say whatever you want, but at the same time, if we go back and look at a situation like Don Imus from a couple years ago, he got in trouble because he said a joke or something in poor taste.

republican-shirt-ifyouhavetoask1Part of me, being involved in the radio industry, I don’t want someone to get in trouble for expressing their beliefs, in this case Tim Tebow.  I want him to be able to feel completely open to expressing his beliefs on whatever religious topic, social topic, economic topic, what have you.  At the same time, I also think that the free market working itself, if there isn’t enough support for Tim Tebow speaking at this Baptist church in Dallas to fill his bank account with new sponsors, I’m all right with that also.  It’s the free market working, although I dislike that it limits freedom of speech.  I’m torn about the whole thing in general.

Mike:  With freedom of speech comes responsibility of speech as well, obedience to the unenforceable.  It’s far better to censor yourself and remove any controversy that can arise than it is to have someone remove it for you via economic pressure.  The fact that we live in an age where people’s entire lives and entire life work can be ruined because they said the wrong thing or because a quote gets tweeted and someone picks it up and gets angry about it, then they begin a campaign and a blackmail and extortion campaign, to me, tells you about the moral status of the people.

Let me throw this at you.  Go back and read some of the writers of the early part and all the way through the mid part of the 20th century.  For example, go read some H.L. Mencken.  Tell me there weren’t slips there, weren’t things that if he wrote today, the New York Times or Baltimore Sun — which I believe he wrote for — would fire him tomorrow.  You can’t write that, dude.  You’re not going to get away with that.  You could say the same thing for men like G.K. Chesterton and you could probably say the same thing if Ray Bradbury had been a columnist instead of an author.

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AG:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Mike:  What we have today is an awful thing.

AG:  Isn’t it a free market working, though?

Mike:  No, no.

AG:  There’s not enough support for that —

Mike:  If this is how a free market of ideas works, then everyone’s idea has merit.  Just because you express an idea, unless it’s illegal, licentious, or murderous at some level, then it’s just an idea.  You’re having free discussion.  Right now, we’re not allowed to discuss certain things, or we’re told we’re not allowed to, because someone may think they’re racist or homophobic.  Get over it.  It’s just words.  If we can’t even have the discussion without someone being labeled — what amazes me are the people that say you’re not allowed to have any stereotypes and stereotyping is what’s wrong with people that live in the United States are the first to stereotype.

As soon as you say something they disagree with, you’re stereotyping.  [mocking] “He’s a xenophobic bigot.  He’s a homophobic bigot.”  Aren’t you stereotyping?  What is a homophobic bigot other than another distinction or another lifestyle choice?  Why is your lifestyle choice any better than mine?  Who in the hell are you to tell me that I’m a bigot.  Maybe you’re the bigot.  We have all the proof we need of this.  We don’t even have to discuss whether or not this actually happens because it does.  Then the conversation gets tied up in labels and distinctions instead of the actual merits of things that ought to really matter to people.

AG:  It’s interesting, the author of this piece writes, “You wonder how long a Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, Branch Rickey or John Carlos could have endured in today’s sports climate.”  Me, not being quite 30 years old, I’ve grown up in the Michael Jordan / Tiger Woods graduate school of don’t offend potential sponsors, that kind of environment where you’re used to our athletes saying: I’m not going to say anything politically.  It makes no sense to do that because I could lose potential sponsors.

Mike:  The Phil Mickelson effect.

AG:  Exactly.  We talked about the Robert Griffin clown brother could he be a Republican thing earlier this year.  Citing back to Tebow, he’s got sponsorships with TiVo as well as either Jockey or Fruit of the Loom.  If Tebow spoke at this Baptist church and then his sponsors like Jockey drop him, do you care?  Is it a bad thing?  Is it a good thing in the sense that Jockey is making the choice through the economics that they would lose potential customers because they would be associated with a “controversial” person as a lead spokesman?  Does it matter if these sponsors were to drop Tebow?

Mike:  These questions are really, really deep.  I feel like I ought to —

AG:  We’re used to it working in the radio industry where you have to, like you said, self-censor.  Then you’re taking it a step past that if you decide I want to profess my religious beliefs, in the instance of Tebow.  If you were to be dropped by sponsors, are those sponsors ultimately making a free market choice that conservatives should agree with, or do you defend the ability of an individual to make a statement and that it shouldn’t have an effect on a product or that sort of thing?

Mike:  If it’s done for the commercial purpose, what is the commercial purpose?  The commercial purpose is consumption.  We want people to consume Jockey.  We want people to consume television recording services, TiVo.  To get them to consume these things, we enlist the aid of celebrity endorsers, athletes and spokesmen.  What the question is is about consumption.  Does the Jockey company believe that people will consume less Jockey because they don’t like Tim Tebow and he is their spokesman than they would have before if they had not contracted with Tebow?  You’re asking a commercial question.  That doesn’t have anything to do with the veracity of what Tebow said.  All that says is he’s not going to appear on their Twitter ad next week.  It doesn’t say that he’s wrong.  It doesn’t answer the moral question that’s being asked.  It doesn’t answer any of those things.  It just says that in our sick, everything-must-be-consumed commercial society, we won’t consume as much Jockey.  That’s a bad thing, so don’t say it.

The economics and the introduction of economics into all things now — everyone is sponsored by someone or something at some level — is, to me, at the crux of the issue.  It does syphon off legitimate debate.  It does prevent legitimate debate.  I don’t think that’s a good thing.  Are we stuck with it now for the time being?  Yeah, I believe we are.  Is there a way out of this?  I suppose if someone were so popular, even though Tiger Woods couldn’t even do it, the people that are selling the consumption would have to have his services regardless of what he said, then maybe you have a reconsideration of it.  We have now a situation where political and moral questions cannot be asked and cannot be debated in a truthful — sometimes this may be offensive.  So what?  Get over it – in a truthful and vibrant and vigorous manner because they will affect deleteriously or adversely affect some financial, fiduciary, or to use the Latin pecuniary state of being.  The commercial then is controlling the moral.  That is an awful state of affairs.  Can you imagine that?  Can you imagine where that’s going to lead?  I’ll tell you where it’s going to lead.  Turn the television on in 2013.  That’s where it leads.

End Mike Church Show Transcript


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