Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov is famous for the classical conditioning research he conducted that earned him the 1904 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
His best-known work is the “Pavlov’s dog” experiment, in which he noted that a dog’s secretion of saliva can be stimulated by food and, over time, by the sound of a bell associated with food, as well. Which brings us to 2012 and Tebow’s dog.
For a good five years now, stretching back to his time at Florida, the national sports media has salivated over any Tebow football story. Would he win another Heisman or BCS title? Where will he be drafted? Will he fix his throwing motion? What position will he play? When will he start? Will the Broncos commit to him long-term? Where will the Broncos trade him? How will he fit with the Jets? How soon will the Jets start him?
If there's a Tebow hook to any football story, the jowls of the sports press are moistened with saliva. That is established. It’s the nature of the beast.
But then it was reported on Thursday that Tebow has changed the name of his dog from “Bronco” to “Bronx.” Unless Tebow’s dog is a direct descendant of Air Bud and is also competing for the Jets' quarterback job, his dog has absolutely nothing to do with football.
Yet what could we, as Pavlovian scientists, observe from this "news"? In the less than 24 hours since Bronco's name change was announced via Twitter, more than 200 articles were written about Tebow’s dog’s name change by the salivating sports media.
It has now been proven that the football media will salivate over the mere bell of Tebow’s name, even if there is no relation to football.
The Tebow’s dog experiment is complete.
Well, now it’s complete. Because we’re up to “more than 200 articles” plus one.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to wipe the saliva off of my keyboard.