Reading Tim Tebow: Conservative Politics and White Power in the Tea Party Era
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In 2011, National Football League (NFL) quarterback Tim Tebow gripped America when the Denver Broncos reeled off a series of thrilling wins in an unlikely playoff run. Surrounding this stretch of Bronco wins was a media frenzy popularly known as “Tebow Mania”. The media explosion around Tebow can be attributed to his perplexing character and the political, cultural and social circumstances in 2011. This thesis is a critical media discourse analysis of Tebow’s sport star identity. I analyze the ways in which Tebow was described during the heights of his popularity during the 2011 NFL season. I argue that Tebow’s sport star identity naturalized ideologies of rightwing conservatism, (rightwing) conservative Christian fundamentalism and white masculinity into “common sense” notions of social life. To accomplish this, I follow cultural studies methodologies that trace Tebow’s rise to prominence within the context of The Tea Party Movement. I outline two dominant narratives that emerged during Tebow Mania to fabricate an American Dream, underdog story. While the first narrative of polarization criticizes and contemplates Tebow’s muscular Christianity, the counter-narrative repackages the polarization of Tebow by celebrating his white racial identity and conservative American values.