Thursday, February 25, 2010

Focus on the Family Ads? Not in the NCAA

Wednesday's Los Angeles Times is reporting that weeks after scoring a publicity coup with a 30-second Super Bowl ad featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, conservative Christian group Focus on the Family is at the center of another marketing tug-of-war — this time involving the major governing body of college sports.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) removed a Focus on the Family banner ad from one of its Web sites this week, NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said Wednesday.

The NCAA made the decision after some of its members — including faculty and athletic directors — expressed concern that the evangelical group's stance against gay and lesbian relationships conflicted with the NCAA's policy of inclusion regardless of sexual orientation, Williams said.

The ad in question was not about sexuality. It featured a father holding his son and the words, "All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing." Like the Tebow ad, it included the address of Focus on the Family's Web site and the slogan, "Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life."

Focus on the Family spokesman Gary Schneeberger said that if such material were "all of a sudden labeled hate speech, we have deeper problems in our country than we even know."

Williams said the decision to pull the ad was based not on the message but on the messenger.

Advertisers "should be generally supportive of NCAA values and attributes and/or not be in conflict with the NCAA's mission and fundamental principles," according to NCAA standards. The NCAA may exclude ads or advertisers "that do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student athletes."

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