Tebow (or, a shameless attempt at page views)
When does a neat story become a phenomenon? When does a phenomenon become a legend? When does a legend become a myth? I think we’ve seen the progression of this as Tim Tebow has progressed along his football career, moving from college to professional and becoming a bigger story than the football games he plays in.
For those of you who don’t know who Tebow is, how are you even able to access this site? Seriously, who hasn’t heard of this guy over the last few years? A home-schooled athlete (which is often a contradiction in terms, but I digress), Tebow is the Heisman-winning former quarterback for the Florida Gators. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2010, moving into the starting role late in the 2011 season. The team went on a six game winning streak shortly after he took over, followed quickly by a three game losing streak. Yesterday, they won a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on a 80 yard touchdown pass in overtime.
Why is all this significant? In the modern era, I think few people have found themselves in the middle of such a perfect storm of high-dollar athletics, Christian faith, hero worship, and humility. In fact, I can’t think of a single person who could have possibly been in the same position.
There have been Christian athletes before, but few who inspire such a love/hate dynamic in fans. My favorite basketball player of all time, David Robinson, was an unabashed Christian but few disliked him for it. Sure, there were the charges that maybe his faith made him too nice of a guy on the court, but I don’t believe that those were grounded in anything. You don’t earn NBA titles by being a nice guy, and the Admiral earned two of them, along with a league MVP award.
Tebow is different. I don’t know if it’s his penchant for winning close games, his all-American nice guy demeanor, or his habit of Tebowing after a great play (actually it’s called praying, but that doesn’t make for fun slang does it?). It seems to me that too many people put the man on a pedestal that nobody could possibly live up to, and too many others want to berate him for being too demonstrative of his faith.
My opinion? I honestly believe that Tebow is caught up in the middle of all this too, and seems rather powerless to stop it. Christians have mobilized on his behalf to defend him at every turn, even though he doesn’t appear to need it. He seems to be a nice guy, extremely humble, deeply committed to his faith, and doing his job. It just so happens that his job takes place in front of thousands of screaming fans, while millions more watch from home. Everything is magnified on that stage, including him. It will all unravel at some point, breaking on the rocks like a wave, but it is interesting to watch while it happens.
One last thing: I hear a great deal of people decry whether or not God cares about a football game. Yes, I think that God does care about the winner and the loser, but not in the ways we might normally think. He isn’t allowing Tebow and the Broncos to win because Tebow prays to Him, as I’m sure that there are players on the Steelers who also pray. However, God is using the witness of the winners and the losers to bring glory to Himself. The winner who points to Christ immediately after the game is no more or less holy than the loser that says the same thing. It’s always easier to praise from the winning side though, isn’t it. That’s a thought for another day though.