How dare he?
I have avoided weighing into the controversy over Tim Tebow, the Denver Bronco quarterback whose very public Christianity, combined with his penchant for leading miracle comeback victories for his team, has made him the most polarizing figure in sports today, and one of the most polarizing people in the culture as a whole. I have avoided commenting because I think the ethics of the controversy are obvious. Tebow is a decent, law-abiding, well-bred young man in a sector of our culture that produces profane, semi-literate, violent, or arrogant jerks, fools, cheats and felons, not to mention arrested adolescents, by the hundreds, who are cheered, worshipped and enriched based solely on their talent to excel in stadiums and arenas. Anyone who chooses Tim Tebow, out of all these travesties of sports celebrity, to deride solely because he is vocal about his religious beliefs isn’t worth arguing about, because the verdict’s in: that critic’s priorities are backwards, inside out and warped. Tebow, unlike the NFL’s assorted felons, the NBA’s many dead-beat dads, and baseball’s steroid cheats, is a worthy role model for kids. He is humble, respectful, does his job and plays by the rules. What’s not to like?
Well, we know the answer to that question. He prays on the field, thanks God after every touchdown pass, and is prone to saying things like, “First and foremost I gotta thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ” to reporters. Is it annoying? Oh, sure it is. This stuff is annoying from any athlete. To begin with, it is silly—the very idea that a Supreme Being gives a hoot which wins a football game is infantile—and it comes off as a commercial, like an athlete who makes sure that he says, “Well, first and foremost I have to thank the General Mills people, because Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions,” has made me who I am today!” in every interview. But Tebow’s statements aren’t commercials, though, and anyone inclined to be fair knows it. This is a man with a deep religious faith who really believes that God guides his every move, and that it is right and responsible to thank Him when the quarterback is being celebrated for athletic exploits that in Tebow’s belief system are the product of his relationship with his deity. The sentiment is sincere and the motivation is virtuous. For Tebow’s displays of faith to incur hatred is an indictment of the haters. If he annoys you, don’t listen to him. If you do, the annoyance is your fault, not Tebow’s. Continue reading →