Tim Tebow, an athlete dads should be thankful for ( This is Old But I liked It)

 

By Timothy P. Carney | November 23, 2011 at 4:40 PM
 
 

College football has become an environment in which money and winning squelch basic human responsibility, compassion and morals, as the horror at Penn State has just shown us. The NCAA also cannot keep its student-athletes from being criminals or taking money from boosters, and the rules are a selectively enforced mess.

But even the NCAA draws the line somewhere. After then-Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow sent national television viewers Googling the Gospel verses he cited with markers on his eye-black, the NCAA created the “Tim Tebow Rule”: No more in-game evangelizing via Sharpie.

This is one drop in the ocean of insanity surrounding Tebow, now the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Tebow is simultaneously the most hated and most beloved player in the NFL.

Sports fans can debate anything for hours, and Tebow provides plenty of fodder for debate. Most intriguingly, he turns in QB performances that range from unimpressive to awful, but then somehow he wins: The Broncos are 4-1 with Tebow under center, after starting the season 1-4. He prompts endless and often conflicting questions: Did the Broncos waste their first-round draft pick on him? Should he be starting? Is he overhyped by the media? Will he create an alternative model for pro quarterbacks?

But none of these football debates explains why Tebow is so polarizing. The old college eye-black explains it.

Tebow is a Christian who is open about it. His critics harp on the openness. Drew Magary, a writer at the sports website Deadspin, bristled at Tebow’s customary touchdown celebration: quietly dropping to one knee and praying to God. “The praying after that Jets TD was too much for me,” Magary wrote of Tebow’s last-minute 20-yard, game-winning touchdown run last week. “Like that guy doesn’t know there will be cameras on him the second he drops to one knee. He’s showing off his piety, dammit. If I were a Jesus freak, I’d be pissed at him for rallying all the Jesus haters to a common cause.”

Predictably, opposing players have taken to “Tebowing” in mockery — one Lions defender did the knee bow after sacking the Broncos quarterback. That’s part of the game. But the mocking of Tebow is not the issue. It’s the sheer hatred shown by opposing fans and especially commenters on sites like ESPN.com. And that hatred has spawned blind loyalty from a different slice of the population.

Pardon the analogy — and please don’t take it too far — but in recent memory the closest thing to the Tebow effect was the fierce love-hate reaction to Sarah Palin after John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008.

In the press gallery of the GOP convention, I saw the visceral revulsion of most reporters to Palin. There were and are plenty of valid critiques of Palin, but the initial reaction was deeply personal.

Off-camera, I saw veteran national television anchors seriously posit that Palin’s new baby was not really her own. I saw liberals posit that Palin shouldn’t abandon her large family to run for VP. Baby Trig and the other four kids were the Rorschach test.

The standard liberal attack on conservatives is to call them hypocrites. But when Palin cradled her baby with Down syndrome, it was an in-your-face-message: She really believes in family values and in the sanctity of life.

Tebow offends for similar reasons. He doesn’t just talk about God and Christ — he actually seems to believe this stuff. There are no stories of his sleeping around at Florida, or on the road as a millionaire superstar. Thanking and praising God seem to come naturally to him.

And similar to Palin’s love of Trig, every time Tebow succeeds at football and life, he indicts the institution of abortion. Planned Parenthood scolded CBS ahead of the Super Bowl in 2010 when it was made public that Tim Tebow and his mother would appear in a pro-family commercial. The pro-choice Left feared Mrs. Tebow would discuss how she disregarded doctors’ recommendations that she abort baby Tim. The average comment-board troll may not think about this, but it still matters that Tebow’s very existence is a pro-life testament.

Like many young fathers, I’ve just realized an unexpected blessing of having young children: I’ve begun watching football again on Sundays, an ideal family activity on cold, dark afternoons. But with players’ classless (and at times obscene) celebrations, frequent poor sportsmanship, unsavory personal lives, and even criminal records, a parent worries what kids will take away from the game.

But then there’s Tim Tebow. Tebow doesn’t have the skills that make quarterbacks successful in today’s NFL, but he has a preternatural will to win. He profusely thanks his teammates. He also seems to live a life of virtue. He’s the kind of guy you hope your sons will become.

Well, not completely: I hope my boys will throw a tighter spiral.

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