2/1/11

Tim Tebow and Sports Fanhood

A good friend of mine sent me a link yesterday morning. I always enjoy links from this friend, and this one was sent to me, I think, with the main intent being to get a rise out of me. The subject of this link: Tim Tebow. Success for her. The link was to a site called "Always Think Positive," and at that point I knew I was in for something very special.


A little context. Tim Tebow is all that is man. Not only is he all that is man, he is all that is the Christian man. Timmy will throw a 60-yard touchdown pass, run for two more, head to New York to grab the Heisman trophy, swing down to the Philippines to circumcise kids, and still make it home for dinner with mom. After dinner, he and mom will film an award-winning anti-abortion ad. Exaggerated? Well yeah. He won't accomplish these tasks within the course of a day, however he'll surely take care of them within the span of just a few years. Tim's shot appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated and you immediately notice the eye black: "Phil" on the right side, "4:13" graces the left. The guy was a one-man wrecking machine at the University of Florida, winning the National Championship for the Gators, and since he left, their offense has been in disarray. It didn't stop there. Tebow was drafted in the first round by Josh McDaniels and the Denver Broncos, and before he even took a snap, he led the league in jersey sales. Tim started several games for the Broncos at the end of 2010, and after many doubted he had the ability to succeed at the pro level, he threw for 654 yards and rushed for 227 more for Denver. And he did it in the name of Christ. He is the Christian athlete, not only boldly standing for his faith, humbly serving and keeping from the moral corruption that envelops many athletes, but also succeeding. He was the best. And he loved God. So why am I not a huge Tim Tebow fan? Why am I, a Christian fan of sports, not a huge fan of Tim Tebow? Why have I not purchased his jersey yet? Am I what you would call a "Tebow-hater?" Absolutely not, but it seems as though the lack of my absolute adoration for him earns such a tag. 


But why is this? Is it because I happen to be a Tennessee Volunteers fan and he demolished my Vols on too many occasions for the rival Gators? I guess that's part of it. But he should be the type of person that I look past the uniform to cheer for the man, right? Well, then, is it jealousy? Am I envious of Tim and all that he has done? That's not the answer either. Tim is successful, and good for him. I don't get jealous of every person that is successful. I go nuts watching someone like Felix Hernandez pitch, and he hasn't spoken a word about being a follower of Christ and, unless I'm missing some article about him (which, I can assure you, I'm not), I don't think he does any circumcising or missions work. Should I not care as much about someone like Felix and be a bigger fan of Tim, simply because he's a better guy and more worthy of my fanhood? 


In short: no. There appears to be a misconception among fans that athletes are in categories: "the good guys" (Tebow, Tony Dungy - an athlete, sort of, and Josh Hamilton - but he's a little dirty with those tattoos, and screwed up that one time), "the bad guys" (Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Dennis Rodman), and everyone else. The truth is, Tim Tebow is no better than any of these other athletes. Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow are both just as in need of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 


I agree with Ted Kluck, who writes in The Reason for Sports: A Christian fanifesto, "I can relate to guys who feel angry, nervous and self-conscious, while I have a harder time relating to Super Bowl champions for whom things appear to be going incredibly well." I don't absolutely adore Tim Tebow partly because I can't relate to the spotlessness with which he is often portrayed. I would consider myself a bigger fan of Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, and a big reason for that is that he screwed up. He struggles with something that I struggle with (and everyone struggles with): sin. But he's incredibly open and honest about it, much more-so than we often are. In addition to that, he humbly goes about his work. No one hour specials on ESPN, no commercials 'thanking' his doubters and no award-winning ads. If you want to look it up, you can find his testimony. But otherwise, Josh Hamilton puts a lot more importance on his relationship with Christ and his mortification of sin than on hitting bombs (which he does...often).  Hamilton doesn't make the game bigger than God Himself.


Do I hate Tim Tebow? No, not at all. Quite the opposite. I admire what he's done, and if he becomes successful and his success spreads the Gospel, then that's wonderful and praise God. Many legitimately hate Tim Tebow just because of his beliefs, while they decry other athletes who don't 'do things the right way.' Just the fact that he is hated because of Christ (Luke 21:17) is pretty cool. More of us should probably be hated by society because of Jesus Christ. I am less a fan of the hype and adoration surrounding Tim Tebow, which he might have nothing to do with; however, he also, by all indications, doesn't seem to shy away from. 


And I didn't really appreciate his running all over my Volunteers.  

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