NCAA Adopts “Tim Tebow Rule”: No More Eye Black Messages

During his football games over the past few years, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow would try to send messages via his “eye black”:

tebow

phil413

Damn that Tebow, always trying to convert me with his eyes

Anyway, it seemed to be a double-standard that never got called out. No doubt some NCAA official would have put the kibosh on eye messages if an atheist player wrote “There Is” “No God” or a Muslim player wrote “Praise” “Allah.” It never happened, so there was never a chance to test that theory. But the fact is when a big-name player like Tebow expressed his Christian beliefs like that, the cowards at the NCAA front offices said nothing.

Now that Tebow has graduated, though, the NCAA is finally addressing the situation. They are banning eye messages in college football.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee agreed Wednesday to bar players from displaying words, numbers, logos and other symbols in the anti-glare “eye black” they underline their eyes with.

Though not mentioned in the decision, former college football star and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow has been credited by numerous media and bloggers as having had an influence on the move –- dubbed by some already as “The Tebow Rule.”

It’s a welcome move, albeit a couple years too late.

When the players are on the field, the focus should only be on which team is better, not whose god has more fervent followers.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    Yeah, but you know if they made the new rule while Tebow was still there, it would’ve been “persecution” and Tebow would’ve become a martyr or something.

  • http://www.tofighthiv.org/goto/clair.high Clair

    Brittany, perhaps that’s why they waited? to keep it on the quieter side.

  • muggle

    no-glare? So that’s why they put that junk under their eyes? I wondered why. See Hemant your blog is educational. Of course, I don’t really think it would have mattered if I’d gone my whole life without knowing that. (In case you can’t tell, I’m no football fan.)

    Better late than never, I guess, on the Tebow rule. Actually, I’m surprised they’re having the guts even now. And fully expect to hear howls of persecution from the hypocrites anyway.

  • Matt

    I see no problem with this if other players can have the freedom to also write “Buddha” “Rocks”, “Blessed” “Be”, or “F*ck” “God”.

  • andrew

    this is all well and good, but what happens when a player writes a message directly on their skin? is that any different from having a tattoo?

    certainly the NCAA has a right to regulate any articles of clothing that are worn during a game (eye black, wrist bands, shoes, etc), but can they tell a player that they can’t have permanent or temporary tattoos that have a message similar to Tebow’s?

    i can see a player subverting this rule by simply writing their message below their eyes.

    as a matter of practical enforcement and of free speech, I think the rule should be that any skin and ink message should be fine (excluding defamation or libel, which would be covered by law anyway).

  • Matto the Hun

    I think it may be better this way. On one hand we could call it craven to wait till Tebow has left, and that may be correct on some level.

    As Brittany points out, if action was taken while Tebow was there, the “Christian-persecution-card” would get played. The fundies probably got blue balls waiting for their chance to play it too. It works in their favor as it drags some unwitting moderate Christians to the fundie side.

    Ideally the practice should have been stopped right away, but I’m glad the fundies did not get the chance to play their favortie game, “Persecuted Christian.”

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Great post. And I agree, the focus is not about sending your religious message to other players and the television audience. It’s about playing the game.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Bummer, now he’ll never get around to:
    Matt 6:5-6

  • http://gaytheistagenda.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    It’s a wise decision, though the RRRWers will still be howling. The NCAA has every right to institute what is essentially a “dress code”, but of course some people will always think it shouldn’t apply to them.

  • colin

    Has anyone pointed out that the Mythbusters totally busted that the black is even effective? So it’s literally superstition written on top of superstition.

  • brandy

    Reginald… that is funny!

  • Shannon

    Just out of curiosity, what is the passage in the second picture? I thought it said “Matt 4:13″ but when I looked that up it doesn’t make sense.

  • http://www.eurovisionamerica.com Michael (SQFreak)

    Shannon, it’s Philippians 4:13 – “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

  • http://negativentropy.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Gray

    @Shannon It says, “Phil 4:13″ It’s the “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” verse.

  • Zoo

    Shannon, it’s Phillippians 4:13, which makes a lot more sense :P

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    Good one Colin.

    Andrew… I thought of that right away too… is there an existing rule preventing them from putting messages on other parts of their face?

  • penn

    I never really had a problem with Tebow’s stupid messages. Yeah, he played for a public school, but no reasonable person would assume that the messages written on his face were government endorsed. I still do think the NCAA was smart to nip this in the bud, though. Someone was bound to push the lines of mainstream offense at some point, and if the NCAA or a public university prohibits specific messages then they are endorsing the allowed messages. Also, what happens if an entire team “volunteers” to put the same religious message on their face? A case could definitely be made that that would violate the establishment clause.

  • Angie

    Love it, Reginald!

  • Mak

    I’m really uncomfortable with this. Like you said, we have no idea if any other message would have been censored. This seems like an utterly pointless rule that will just add more fuel to the fire of the “our rights are being oppressed!” Christians, as someone else pointed out. Who was he hurting by doing this? Why the hell do I care what he writes on his face? Oh, his Bible verses are just so darn offensive we have to ban all face-writing. What the heck?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Anyway, it seemed to be a double-standard that never got called out. No doubt some NCAA official would have put the kibosh on eye messages if an atheist player wrote “There Is” “No God” or a Muslim player wrote “Praise” “Allah.” It never happened, so there was never a chance to test that theory. But the fact is when a big-name player like Tebow expressed his Christian beliefs like that, the cowards at the NCAA front offices said nothing.

    Are you really condemning them as hypocritical cowards for something you hypothesized would happen? They didn’t even actually do anything.

  • Shannon

    Thanks everyone ;-) I couldn’t make it out in the picture and it was bugging me, lol!

  • littlejohn

    On the other hand, if I were playing linebacker against that sanctimonious shit, the jebus messages would just give me more motivation to knock him into next week.
    OK, wait a minute. Count to ten. I’ll be OK.

  • Jeff Purser

    Andrew – Re: Tattoos

    Geno Auriemma, head coach of the UConn Women’s Basketball team has a rule against his players getting tattoos anywhere they will be visible while wearing the uniform. If a player/recruit has an existing tattoo, it must be covered at all times the player is in public as a representative of the team.

    AFAIK the rule is content neutral.

    An NCAA rule banning tattoos might run afoul of religious/cultural landmines when recruits from the Pacific Islands show up on campus or a Catholic kid with a crucifix on his forearm (or forehead) is a superstar.

    It’s an interesting issue. Personally, I support all people having the right to proclaim whatever it is they wish to proclaim. As long as one has calculated the cost/benefit of displaying the message, go for it.

    I wish a free thinking/atheist athlete had had the courage to “fly the flag” for our side.

  • Danny

    It’s funny that the face paint is such a big deal. I remember seeing a Mythbusters episode in which they totally debunked anti-glare paint’s effectiveness. Ergo, Tebow’s face paint’s only function was to proselytise.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Ditto to MikeTheInfidel. It seems mighty strange to invent a hypothetical situation, decide how the NCAA would have acted in that situation, and then condemn them for their imaginary decision. And further strange to argue in favor of a rule based on its consistency with their imaginary decision.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    MiketheInfidel (and others) — I’m saying the NCAA are cowards for never calling Tebow out on wearing message-laden eye blacks. I’m not referring to some hypothetical situation they didn’t react to.

  • http://brophyfootball.blogspot.com brophy

    better late than never….

  • Derek

    Perhaps they didn’t view it as a potential problem until recently. I don’t see how not enforcing a rule that doesn’t exist, or not creating a rule for a problem that you don’t recognize constitutes cowardice. Personally, I would have rather seen a “eye message” about there being no God received as being fair.

    Cheers and Excelsior!

  • Peregrine

    I have to say, I take issue calling the NCAA cowards based on speculation on what they might have done. They never had the opportunity.

    I mean, unless there is some other reason they’re being called cowards that I – not being a sports aficionado – would be unaware of. Or a pattern of past behaviour that leads you to expect what their actions might have been had the opportunity presented itself. Or something like that.

    Otherwise, I think it’s bad form to accuse them of cowardice for a double standard that they never had a chance to demonstrate in the first place.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    MiketheInfidel (and others) — I’m saying the NCAA are cowards for never calling Tebow out on wearing message-laden eye blacks. I’m not referring to some hypothetical situation they didn’t react to.

    And why should they? Does he need to be made an example of, or is the fact that they’ve passed a rule against it not enough?

  • Autumnal Harvest

    I’m not referring to some hypothetical situation they didn’t react to.

    The hypothetical situation is the Muslim/atheist eye message. You criticized them for applying a double standard, but the only evidence you have for a double standard is a hypothetical situation where you just decided what their reaction would have been. Without that hypothetical, I’m not sure what they did that was cowardly. Failing to enforce a rule that didn’t exist at the time?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    It never happened, so there was never a chance to test that theory. But the fact is when a big-name player like Tebow expressed his Christian beliefs like that, the cowards at the NCAA front offices said nothing.

    Calling them cowards was in direct reference to their non-response to Tebow vice their hypothetical negative response to another hypothetical situation…

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    The “no glare” eye black is nonsense anyway. Has anyone ever really noticed any difference? It’s just like warpaint. To make those lacking in confidence to feel tough and macho.

    Did you notice in the Super Bowl which quarterback used it and which one didn’t? Which one won and was MVP?

    Athletes are frequently as delusional as theists. When they are both, it becomes hysterical. Tebow is a jerk and an arrogant cement head/

  • Robert

    Good move. Now if they could just ban putting hands up and pointing to the sky after every touchdown/catch/tackle then I could enjoy my football even more. :)

  • jorsch

    Oh no! How will I know what zip code my favorite players are reppin’?

  • Scott

    wow that’s a lame rule. why not allow people to display things on their eye black? who the fuck cares? just because you think that

    “When the players are on the field, the focus should only be on which team is better, not whose god has more fervent followers.”

    does not make it a fact. that is your opinion. this is a form of censorship. if Tim or any other player thinks that God is helping them to win the game then why not allow them to display it? why must we silence them? that is authoritarian and wrong. this rule sucks.

    and when you say

    “No doubt some NCAA official would have put the kibosh on eye messages if an atheist player wrote “There Is” “No God” or a Muslim player wrote “Praise” “Allah.””

    that is simply an accusation. i doubt very much that such a prestigious association like the NCAA would discriminate. if they did they would have the shit sued out of them; and you know that is true, because the school of the team with the player who was discriminated against would be completely fucking outraged. students would riot. trust me. i got to UF. if this rule were implemented while Tebow was still here it could very easily be argued that, because the NCAA is not allowing Tebow to express himself during his games his ability to play is hindered as his spirit would, in my opinion since Tebow IS such a religious guy, be nearly broken. it would not be the same. and that is not right. this rule is bullshit.

  • Bryan

    Stupid rules are meant to be broken/tested. I say someone gets a facial tattoo of John 3:16 under both eyes. What could the NCAA do then? The NCAA should at least admit this rule came about because of Tebow. The “this rule wasn’t because of any particular player or team” crap is a flat lie. This is America, and freedom of speech/religion is huge. Americans should be allowed to promote their individual religions in a subtle way. I doubt any true atheist ever felt alienated by Tebow’s eye black. No, probably more emboldened if anything. Just playing devil’s advocate.

  • xm13radio

    It is strange that a lot of you here are cheering the reduction in our Americans right, and that is the right of freedom of speech and the freedom of expression. If someone does not want to know what scripture text he has on his eyes don’t read them.

  • Eeden

    I wonder at the arrogance of sports people who think that god is on their side, when they are really asking him to abandon all of their opponents (many of whom also may be praying fervently to the same god!).


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