It's just not the Super Bowl without controversial advertising! But this year's most talked-about ad is coming from an unlikely source:
A national coalition of women's groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.
"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year - an event designed to bring Americans together," said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women's Media Center.
Exactly. Super Bowl ads are supposed to be about beer and scantily clad women. Anything else is just un-American! The Tebow ad -- which the NOW president called "extraordinarily offensive and demeaning" -- sounds downright nefarious:
The ad - paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family - is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.
CBS sports columnist Gregg Doyel puts it all in perspective:
"If you're a sports fan, and I am, that's the holiest day of the year," he wrote. "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."
All kidding aside, this is likely to become more of an issue in the future. Last year, NBC rejected CatholicVote.org's mild "Life: Imagine the Potential" spot, but theirs wasn't the first "advocacy ad" to be turned down: In 2004, CBS nixed a spot from the United Church of Christ welcoming homosexuals (which some pro-life viewers may have been glad of). It's a knife that cuts both ways -- and as this door is opened, it might become increasingly difficult to turn down ads from either side of the aisle.
Cries that potato-chip-shoveling football fans (and make no mistake, come February 7, I plan to be one of them) will have their delicate sensibilities offended by this Tebow ad are rich. Still, it seems likely that the debate over whether "advocacy" ads have a place during these kinds of events is just heating up.
(AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)