The reason I did this was because I suspected that the promotion would receive national attention. Well, it did, but in a more roundabout way than I initially suspected. The promotion was held yesterday as planned, except with no specific references to Tim Tebow. This counter-intuitive development occurred because the team received a “cease-and-desist” email from the University of Florida.
“Under NCAA rules, it is not permissible to use the name or picture of a student-athlete in the promotion of a commercial product or service,” wrote Florida senior associate athletic director Jamie McCloskey. “Failure to abide by this rule would result in the student-athlete being ruled ineligible.”
It was this aspect of the promotion that ended up getting national attention, largely thanks to an Associated Press article that appeared early this afternoon (“Minor League team sacks Tebow promotion night” read the clever but misleading headline). Where the AP goes, others are sure to follow, and at this point Google lists 170 outlets that have picked up on the story in some way, shape, or form.
But, again, the promotion still happened. It wasn’t so much “sacked” as “deflected into the hands of an open reciever.”
“It turned out positively for us,” said Miracle director of promotions Gary Sharp. “We did everything the same way we would have, except we just said ‘T.T.’ instead of ‘Tim Tebow.'”
One aspect of the promotion that didn’t work out was the guest appearance of a local man named “Tim Tebo”, who was scheduled to walk on water as part of a between-inning stunt.
“I told him that there would be some media, but nothing serious, and he just clammed up,” said Sharp. “I couldn’t get a firm commitment out of him, because he told me that he doesn’t really like being around people. So we had one of our interns don a Gator jersey and walk on water instead.”
“He was out there mingling, but didn’t really get any business,” said Sharp, who perhaps overestimated the market for ballpark faith healing.
The team did get some interesting feedback from fans of rival Florida State, however.
“We got some emails saying ‘This is awesome. You should do the promo as planned so that Tebow isn’t eligible to play this season.'” recalled Sharp.
Sharp’s comment brings up a larger issue. Namely — would it really be possible for a college athlete to lose his eligibility due to the actions of a Minor League Baseball team? If so, teams should take advantage of this newfound power! The opportunity to make some money via blackmail and extortion would be hard to pass up.
Finally, some of you may remember that one of the promotion’s many selling points was this:
[Since] Tebow is perfect the Miracle will also have to be perfect on Wednesday night. If the Miracle commit an error during the game, fans will recieve a ticket to Sunday’s regular season finale.
Well, the Miracle did indeed commit an error, and fans did indeed receive free tickets to Sunday’s game.
“In the locker room after the game, players were asking me ‘Is this what you wanted? Did we do the right thing by making an error?'” said Sharp. “So even they were getting into it.”
As it turns out, very little ceasing and desisting went on in Fort Myers. It was more like “Slightly modify, then proceed as planned.”