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Posted on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

Super Bowl ads feature sex, violence — and now abortion. Will you let your kids watch?

By Jen Eyer


The 2007 Miller Lite catfight ad: appropriate for kids?

I'll admit it: I couldn't care less who wins this Sunday's Super Bowl game (who's playing, anyway?). The NFL is not my thing.

Historically, the only thing that keeps me in the room is the ads. But now that we have children, we have to be on high alert during the commercial breaks, ready to change the channel if the content is inappropriate.

Wait. Let me rephrase that, because the content is almost always inappropriate. It's usually just a matter of whether the kids happen to be watching.

After all, do I really want my 6-year-old daughter to see women exposing their breasts in Congressional hearings? Do I want my 3-year-old son to watch a man punching a koala bear?


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow embraces his mother, Pam, during a pre-game ceremony for graduating seniors on the Florida football team Nov. 28, 2009.

AP file photo

This year, though, some parents are really upset about the Tim Tebow anti-abortion ad. In case you haven't heard, University of Florida football player Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, will appear in an ad in which they claim that when Pam was pregnant with Tim, she suffered serious pregnancy complications but rejected her doctor's advice to have an abortion.

Michelle Cottle of the New Republic writes:

Grading on a curve, a split-second peek at [Janet Jackson's] boob, while utterly tasteless, isn't that hard to wave off with kids in the room; an ad that specifically aims to provoke discussion by focusing, no matter how cheerily, on a woman's high-stakes decision about whether or not to terminate her pregnancy opens up a darker, more complicated can of worms.

It may be true that the anti-abortion ad will provoke discussion, but grading on my own parenting curve, I'd rather have a difficult discussion than no discussion at all. I would imagine my daughter turning to me, after viewing the Tebow ad, and asking, "Mom, what's an abortion?" And I would tell her, in age-appropriate terms. I would also add my own personal views on the subject. As for my son, it would just be over his head and he would tune out.

In contrast, if she sees a commercial showing nearly-naked women wrestling in wet cement while men cheer them on, I doubt she would ask me about it. But she'd be introduced to the idea that men must find it exciting when women strip down and crawl all over each other. As for Wes, it wouldn't be over his head, either. Initiating a discussion with them on what's wrong with this ad would be difficult. What would I say? "Um, so kids, about those naked women..."

So contrary to what the NFL and CBS would have us believe, I don't consider the Super Bowl a "family event." I think it should just be understood that Super Bowl commercials aren't for children, period. Maybe this year we'll have the kids watch a movie in another room while the grownups take in the game.

Jen Eyer is on the Community Team at She oversees the Parenting and Home & Garden sections, and writes feature stories, blog posts and opinion pieces. She can be reached at 734-623-2577 or


Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Feb 8, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

I saw the commercial. I think that a number of pundits could afford to revise their PRE-judicial comments. I've lost three nieces and nephews (that I know of) to the abortion industry and have had a front row seat to the post traumatic disorders suffered by not only the mothers, but also the other members of the family, and especially the fathers. The trauma and loss that friends, siblings, and parents suffer in addition to the way that their relationship with the mother is forever changed is rarely discussed. Tangentially related to this discussion, 20 years ago, when I lost my first family member to abortion, the provider was paid $300.00. While the cost of other medical procedures has soared in the last 20 years, why has the cost of a 1st trimester abortion been able to remain relatively constant?


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 11:08 a.m.

If you think that abortion is an uncomfortable topic, then maybe it's because it's wrong and therefore difficult to defend. Having a baby is more cheerful to discuss, for the obvious reason that the baby was not killed. The latter is far more difficult to justify.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 3:14 p.m.

This ad has motivated me to donate in its name to Planned Parenthood. Wonder how Mrs. Tebow would have felt had she been forced to have an abortion? Thankfully, she wasn't -- she had the choice to continue her pregnancy. And I much appreciate Ms. Eyer's wisdom to see a teachable moment here. I so wish more parents would find and use these opportunities.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

I was out of the country lasr SB and luckily didn't have to watch all the lame commercials...can't stand them.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 1:59 a.m.

I will watch the SuperBowl. I'm a sports fan. I will also watch the ads, which is half the fun of watching the game. I will have an opinion about the Tebow ad, and hope that Planned Parenthood offers a counter viewpoint.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 1:54 a.m.

Sarcastic1, Great comment! I think all liberals should embrace abortion.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:08 p.m.

A2Dave Funny you should mention libraries. What a great substitute for TV! We're great fans of the wonderful libraries here in town. Tell the truth: how soon would you start getting antsy if your TV went bust? One day? Two? What would you do with your time if you couldn't watch TV for a week? I love the scene from 'The Two Towers' where King Theoden is exorcised by Gandalf. He goes from being a nearly blind, deaf half-wit to a fully alive human being. After many years of being lied to by Wormtongue, he has slowly become fully controlled by Saruman. At the risk of becoming a lightning rod in an electrical storm, I would liken years and decades of watching TV to a deadening of purpose and will. And before you label me some crazed nut, I would sincerely challenge anyone to do without your TV for even a week. If you haven't done without for a significant time, then I don't believe you can objectively say that it makes no difference. TV is a huge battleground as this article points out. What I believe what we've done in our family is to take the battle to more favorable ground.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

Mr Breigel "There he goes again..." Looks like a cut and paste from one of your comments on another thread. But how about the issue at hand? I suppose having a guy say that he's glad his mom didn't have him dismembered, sliced up, and vacuumed out must bother you. Why not just say that. Let's leave the bomb dropping, anti Christian diatribe for another time.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:03 p.m.

Oh I frogot to add republicans


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

From commericals to Hitler to best parents now to christians it amazes me how anything will get the goofballs going

David Briegel

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:29 p.m.

I only wish they would tell the whole story. You know, the women dying from illegal abortions because the pseudo-Christians look down their noses at pregnant single women (unless you're a Palin) and the lack of legal health care. You know, just a little concern for the living and alive and not just the unwanted fetuses. And I am certain it will not expose the hypocrisy of the so called "pro-lifers" who are having bombs dropped in their name and paid for with their tax dollars every single day. Perpetual War Profiteering in the name of Jesus and the vengance against the "guy that tried to kill the daddy" of the cowboy who would be king! And Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham served as the Leni Riefenstahl to that cowboy! Mike, It's the pseudo Christians I worry about. The Christians believe in the Golden Rule. The pseudo Christians believe that "He who has the gold, rules!" They are mostly Republicans!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:11 p.m.

Parents should be concerned about ALL the commercials their children are watching.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

In the early days of satellite watching football and other sporting events was great. The commercials were all controlled by the local affiliate and the staellite broadcast just went to a black screen when the commercials were being played. I wish I could program my tv to do this every time a commercial came on, regardless of what I was watching.

John of Saline

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:06 p.m.

My main problem with the whole Janet Jackson thing was the inappropriate violence. I mean, say the little stunt went "right" and Justin Timberlake had only ripped off one layer of her outfit (to a line in the song about ripping her clothes off). It's still wildly inappropriate, a very violent action for no readily apparent reason.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

How come no one has mentioned the mute and buttons?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

THANK YOU, ArborMike -- you've stated my thoughts precisely!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:37 p.m.

I am with T. Taylor. Jen nails it with this, "... I'd rather have a difficult discussion than no discussion at all." If you're not talking to your kids about what they are seeing on TV, it's probably not worth watching in the first place.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

I have always been anti-abortion. But after reading some of these posts, I might be changing my mind.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

Dr Ghost I thought the whole point of the article was about parents' responsibility with their kids. If that makes me a 'good' parent, fine. Why is a little sex here, a little sex there OK? Hasn't there been zero tolerance for drugs, bullying, anti-race bigotry, etc. in our schools and in our communities for a long time? And rightly so. But sex leads to pregnancies which leads, often, to abortion. Having naked women wrestling around, and having a pro-life message on the same forum is very much a part of the same issue.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:47 p.m.

@ Larry: I'm sick of people claiming that anything that isn't the view of the christian church is "liberal agenda". Get a hobby.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:28 p.m.

Ha this is seriously classic. People are worried about their kids watching ads on TV? Do these kids not have the internet or something? I'm syre they've seen farrrrrrrrr worse than Tim Tebow talking about being his mother didn't abort him. What do you expoect him to say? I'm glad my mom had me.

Jake C

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

Yep, Hitler references are usually pretty funny, why not make more of them? But I have to agree with the general tone of the article and the comments -- kids are incredibly observant and will ask questions when they don't understand. Girls mud-wrestling is actually pretty simple to understand for a young child -- adults are acting silly (and older children might understand the sexual undertones, and won't ask their parents about it). And the 1-second view of a breast (whether "enhanced" or otherwise) is something that a vast majority of children have already seen, some for years! Who cares? But "Abortion" is a word that not a lot of kids under the age of 12 understand, or why anyone would need to "Choose Life" in the first place. Doesn't everyone appreciate life already, since we're all alive? Abortion is a complex issue that very few children can comprehend even if their parents try to explain it to them, unless the whole discussion consists of "Abortion is bad, mmkay?" But hey, I think I'd still take one Tim Tebow pro-choice ad over having to view dozens of erectile-dysfunction ads over the course of the entire sports season...


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : noon

I'm waiting for the sexist, promotes violence stuff


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

Oh come on was supposed to be sort of funny you know? *shakes head at my-own sense of humor* Still, I am very thankful to not be a sports fan. :O)


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

sbbuilder: Don't dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back. This is a discussion regarding advertising and parental responsibilities. Very few things are totally without value, and that includes a significant amount of what is on television. Which is also true of libraries, come to think of it. The best provide for the broadest range of tastes, needs and expectations.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

Actually, the reason you've never seen a "pro-choice" ad is the NFL and Superbowl have had a long standing policy of not accepting/airing "issue" ads, of whatever bias or orientation. The objection here has been to permit this one, while barring all others.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

For what it's worth, we haven't had a TV in our home for the past 16 years. Instead, we have a monitor hooked up to a DVD. Do I miss National Geo specials? History Channel? Science stuff? You bet. However, putting all that good stuff on one end of the scale doesn't even come close to balancing the mind-numbing filth on the other. Re Top Cat: that's exactly what we do with our kids. Go for walks in the nearby woods. Play elaborate board games. Read out loud with them. The first time a new friend comes over, they instinctively look for the TV. Not finding one, looking rather puzzled, they wonder 'what's next?' Not to fear; upon leaving, they beg their mom 'can I come back'? Difficult discussions with our children are just that, difficult. More so because one of our children is very precocious, and keeps asking probing questions. Three cheers to the parents who are patient and caring enough to engage their children. If we get enough snow, I think we'll build a snowman. Or go sledding. Or......


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

Wow,Kate!!! Hitlerian, eh? Talk about taking something way over the top. That is way to crazy for even for me.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:49 a.m.

Really Kate, Hitler? C'mon use your head. There's absolutely nothing worng with disliking professional sports, but I think that is just a wee bit of stretch. I'm sure there's lots of people who think football "rallies" are a lot different than the Nazis...

Theresa Taylor

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:42 a.m.

Ahhh!! I never watch Super Bowl, but this story has certainly given pause to the commercials that are obviously in poor taste. BTW Jen - "... I'd rather have a difficult discussion than no discussion at all." I think that's the smartest thing I've heard a parent say in quite sometime.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

I've never watched a Superbowl, and never will. What a colossal waste of time & money. I don't understand the allure of professional sports - just an expensive channel for ugly, rah-rah-rah, us v. them, etc...reminds me of some sort of Hitlerian rally with all the uniforms, pagentry, fight-songs, etc. Oh, and I thank the stars I found a great husband who has as much interest in professional sports as I do. No blaring TV set on at our house 24/7 on weekends :O)


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

I guess a pro choice ad would have been OK and then the liberals would have been happy, too bad for them not to be able to jump on the band wagon (maybe next year) I'm sure next years Super Bowl we'll have someone celebrating the grand opening of a marijuana chain expanding to all states. This is just another way of expressing our moral decline through the media, something to be proud of for the almighty buck.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Actually, my bet is this ad will not even use the word "abortion".. The Tebow ad will talk about LIFE. The ad will be all PRO-LIFE. It will likely focus on the positive aspects of that, instead of the the bloody filleting of unborn children, currently mis-named "Choice".


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

I'm sorry but I think this anti-abortion ad is far worse than what you guys realize. For one, I have never seen a pro-choice ad once. For two, discussing with a child the emotionally disturbing concept of not keeping a baby is far more troubling to me than reinforcing the fact that the behavior of girls wrestling in mud is inappropriate. I have a 4 year old daughter and know for a fact that she would be more disturbed by discussing abortion at her age than the mud wrestling.

Top Cat

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

Thanks for Jen for at least acknowledging that parents should be doing their job as parents and attempting to regulate what their children are exposed to. Perhaps instead of having them watch a movie, turn the video off, put the outside lights on and have a family snowman making contest.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

It's great that they finally have an anti-abortion ad. It's about time that it's not just about the liberal agenda.

Angela Smith

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:55 a.m.

Thanks for bringing these concerns to light; I always appreciate your well stated opinions. I will be at a Superbowl Party -- all ages. Not sure I even want to watch these with grandpa in the room...