Sean James and Al Joyner Respond to the Tebow Super Bowl ad

By Rachel Walden — February 4, 2010

By now you may have heard about the Focus on the Family-sponsored anti-choice ad slated to run during the Super Bowl. The ad features football player Tim Tebow and his mother discussing her decision not to have an abortion when pregnant with the star player.

The ad has been controversial for many reasons, including that it marks a change from CBS’s past “no advocacy/controversy” policy (an ad for a gay dating site was declined), glosses over issues related to privilege and the illegality/safety of abortion in the Philippines, and presents a situation in which Tebow celebrates her own choice (to go through with the pregnancy) and its resultant football star while advocating against other women having the same choice.

We don’t yet know the exact form the ad will take, except that CBS has worked with the anti-choice Focus on the Family on the language, and it will highlight Pam Tebow’s decision not to have an abortion with a tagline of “Celebrate family, celebrate life” (as though one can’t do those things and be pro-choice?).

Planned Parenthood has already released a preemptive response video featuring former football player Sean James and Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner espousing a message we can get behind – one of choice and trusting women. Among their comments:

I respect and honor Mrs. Tebow’s decision. I want my daughter to live in a world world where everyone’s decisions are respected.

We are working toward the day where every woman will be valued. Where every woman’s decision about her health and her family will be respected.


Related: Jacyln Friedman writes at The Nation about sex and the Super Bowl, arguing that “the Tebow/Focus on the Family ad is just a new expression of a longstanding Super Bowl tradition in which women are valued only in direct relation to their usefulness to male athletes and fans.”

10 responses to “Sean James and Al Joyner Respond to the Tebow Super Bowl ad”

  1. Two great black americans did this pro-abortion ad. Do they not know 3 out of 4 black americans are killed in the womb. How many gold medalists or NFL players have we lost to abortion? How many Obamas, Dr. Kings? Maybe even the first black female president of the US. It is amazing how feminist are for abortion “choice” but want to stop a strong empowered woman from voicing her “choice” in choosing life when a male doctor told her to abort. Truly amazing.

  2. When a man’s “right to choice” is threatened in cases of vasectomies, to have government dictate that “choice” for him, we will see a turn of events. When the choice or lack of choice in reproduction affects both genders, we will see a change.

  3. It seems like Planned Parenthood made Sean James and Al Joyner their little neutered eunuchs (I’d say the ‘B-_-_-_-_ word but am afraid I’d get censored). I’m not sure they bumped two brain cells together when agreeing to do that preemptive strike. What is everyone so scared of? Is there a sane woman alive who actually ‘wants’ to have an abortion? I have seen studies regarding why women get abortions put out by Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute and none of them include ‘she has a choice’ as a reason why women get abortions. Of course she has a choice. Talking about ‘women’s health’ and ‘choice’ on the macro level is clean and neat and means nothing to a woman facing an unplanned or problem pregnancy.

    The problem with the abortion option is that women have them because they feel trapped, like they have no other choice. To be clear choice actually means a decision between 2 or more options. To empower a woman means that she feels emotionally free to choose an option that is outside of my political agenda . . . rather than leave her feeling like abortion is her only option. If the default thought for a woman facing unplanned pregnancy is, “I need to have an abortion,” then to truly empower her means we support her in such a way that she feels like she could actually have the baby if SHE WANTED to. But then that takes real work, real community support and involvement, real (dare I say masculine?) strength, real faith in a woman’s ability to choose what is right for her. It means we are in this not just for ourselves. It means we really value women more than we value peddling our cold, unhelpful political agendas on either side of the debate.

    The tragedy of abortion is not the debate over choice but rather the excuse it gives society to remain uninvolved in helping another human being. Abortion does not serve the cause of ‘choice’ nor the cause of women. Rather it undermines by reinforcing the idea that she is truly unsupported, alone if she makes any other decision. Abortion simply helps her to feel even more disenfranchised and alone.

    Mr. Abortion doctor: “That will be $583.78 please. Oh, and if you have any problems don’t call us go to the emergency room.”

    Patient: “Ouch . . . .”

    Mr. Abortion doctor: “Next!”

    Mercenary medicine: The curious case of missing medical CARE or the birth of medical Naziism.

  4. I don’t get the “What if Obama had been aborted?” argument. I like the way Richard Dawkins puts it:

    “The sperm that conceived Tim Tebow was part of an ejaculate of (at an average estimate) 40 million. If any one of them had won the race to Mrs Tebow’s ovum instead of the one that did, Tim would not have been born, somebody else would. Probably not such a good quarterback but – we can but hope – a better logician, who might have survived the home schooling and broken free. That is not the point. The point is that every single one of us is lucky to be alive against hyper-astronomical odds. Tim Tebow owes his existence not just to his mother’s refusal to have an abortion. He owes his existence to the fact that his parents had intercourse precisely when they did, not a minute sooner or later. Then before that they had to meet and decide to marry. The same is true of all four of his grandparents, all eight of his great grandparents, and so on back.

    Religious apologists are unimpressed by this kind of argument because, they say, there is a distinction between snuffing out a life that is already in existence (as in abortion) and failure to bring life into existence in the first place. It’s not a distinction that survives analytical thought, however. Look at it from the point of view of Tim’s unborn sister (let us say), who would have been conceived two months later if only Tim had been aborted. Admittedly, she is not in a position to complain of her non-existence. But then nor would Tim have been in a position to complain of his non-existence, if he had been aborted. You need a functioning nervous system in order to complain, or regret, or feel wistful, or feel pain, or miss the life that you could have had. Unconceived babies don’t have a nervous system. Nor do aborted fetuses. As far as anything that matters is concerned, an aborted fetus has exactly the same mental and moral status as any of the countless trillions of unconceived babies. At least, that is true of early abortions, which means the vast majority.”

    Here’s a link to the whole post:

  5. While sarah’s point is, as Dawkins cogently argues, rather ridiculous and Jim’s point is self-contradictory (basically asserting, “I want to empower women to make the choice I want to force them to make” — Jim, there are actually a wide range of reasons why women have abortions and there are, if you can believe it, plenty of women who have abortions who are NOT riddled with guilt about it), we are all missing the point if we think the real issue with the Tebow ad is its anti-abortion stance.

    The real issue, as Jaclyn Friedman argues so well (see the link Rachel provides in the blog post), is the media’s misogyny — especially when it comes to the sports culture the media so fervently promotes. What is absent from the ad and American football-led sports culture is the presence of strong, independent, unapologetic women that live for themselves. In fact, as I write that last sentence, thinking about American sports culture and real women is almost laughable.

    While I admire the female sideline reporters that I’m sure CBS will employ in some capacity — who, in many ways, are the most journalistic voices in the entire broadcast — they are just that — on the sidelines.

  6. There are two issues here:the message and the venue. Since I am pro-choice, I disagree with the message, but I respect the right of those who think differently to voice their opinions in appropriate venues; the televising of the Super Bowl is not one of them. I would be equally adamant against a commercial advocating a pro-life or other political or policy position that I support. There has been an unwritten rule that sports and entertainment shows should avoid commercials that are controversial and divisive. For me and many other viewers, the Super Bowl is pure escapism, something to be enjoyed mindlessly without interference from the real world.

  7. Sean James says “We’re working toward the day when every woman will be valued”. That is a wonderful goal and that is a goal that all pro-lifers would agree with. We just feel that we need to take it further than that. We feel that not only should every woman be valued, but every single life should be valued. Of course this includes the lives of the unborn.

    We don’t believe that women should have the freedom to decide whether or not to take the life of their unborn child. If a man & woman are responsible enough to choose to have sex, they should be responsible enough to handle the consequences. Using abortion as a means of birth control is irresponsible and wrong.

    There is a point where all of us need to have our freedom limited in order for the greater good of society. ie. speed limit, etc. In the long run, placing a high value on life will benefit all of society, women included.

    The previous poster thinks we need strong, independent, unapologetic women who live for themselves. Isn’t that the problem with America? We all live for ourselves(men included) and when we do, we clash with others and impinge on the freedoms of others. No one is absolutely free. And certainly, no one would want to live in an absolutely free society because it would deteriorate quickly into chaos.

    Being a strong person can be admirable if you know how to keep your strength under control and not misuse it. However, being unapologetic is not such an admirable trait. We don’t need a bunch of people who don’t know how to apologize. It takes a strong person to be able to apologize. Weak people are unable to apologize because it threatens them. This “strong, independent, unapologetic woman who lives for herself” is not the type of people that we need more of in our society. We need people, both men and women, who are willing to love, respect, and even serve others and live in community together. We can be unapologetic in the sense that we are not afraid to stand up for what is right – and I think we would all agree that taking the life of an unborn child is just not right.

  8. tjguy

    What good points you make. Freedom should be limited for the greater good of society, and having a high value on life benefits everyone, including women.

    That is why I’m sure you won’t mind that, as men are the perpetrators of the majority of assaults, rapes, robberies, and homicides, and comprise the vast majority of pedophiles, a strict curfew on all males over the age of 16 should be in place. Men obviously can’t be trusted to to do good. Not only that, but strict gun control laws should be in place. Uncontrolled, unscrupulous businesses should not be allowed to run rampant. And because even the life of a poor man is highly valued, we should provide universal health care to everyone, because preserving the life and health of everyone, regardless of whether they can pay or get a job with fabulous benefits, is worth whatever the cost.

    “Being a strong person can be admirable if you know how to keep your strength under control and not misuse it. ”

    I interpret this as “You, as a woman, ought to know your place. You should be obedient and do as I say. I know what’s good for you. If you don’t, you aren’t a good person.”

    Sorry, that bit of shaming is as old as the dinosaurs. Not falling for it here.

  9. Did anyone actually see and hear this ad? It was during a very early commercial break in the game, maybe even the first. The party I was at, everyone started talking and then we said What??? Was that the ad??? What did they say???? All that money for that????

  10. While pro-lifers are advocating women’s rights do they realize that FEMALE babies are being aborted. The very people that they are supporting are being destroyed throught this horrific act. In order for women to be truly wise in this debate why not teach and offer up PRE-choice. I also cannot believe that two Black men and other Black people are supporting this when it is destroying the Black community. To date approximately 14,000,000 African American babies have died. The affect of abortion does not stop at the abortion. Women, whom you advocate, are left to deal with the aftermath of emotional trauma that no one prepares them for. Check out Silent No More for stories of these women. No matter how you look it we are and have destroyed generations of bablies/people though this so-called women’s rights when the only ones really benefitting is the abortion mills. How deceived we are!

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