It is often said that the arena of sports is a microcosm of society. Football presents a good case for that assertion. Here are just a few commonalities between the two:
- Looking for loopholes to get ahead and attacking the vulnerabilities of others is standard,
- Money often influences the ability to win,
- Branding and popularity seems more important than character and substance,
- Playing the villain brings a fair share of fans.
Mirroring the political arena of today, there are more heralded sports figures receiving sanctions and penalties than attaboys and thank-yous. In fact, the anti-hero, gets more stardom now a days than the guy on the white horse. Don’t get me wrong. I like the sport if only for the lessons it offers. How the world is responding to Tim Tebow’s attribution of success, his parent and his faith, is an example.
Tim Tebow is a quarterback ingénu. At the University of Florida, he lead Coach Urban Meyer’s team to a national championship only to be labeled a “system” player who can’t win outside Florida. He’s been called an “actor” or “pretender” with no real skill to be a quarterback. Severely doubted as a pro prospect, he gets recruited to the Denver Broncos and takes his spot on the bench behind one of the worst quarterbacks in the league. Rightly so it seemed. Tebow’s practices at the position, with balls often thrown 5 yards short of receivers, was ugly. One NFL expert said, “Jesus could turn water into wine, but not Tim Tebow into a quarterback.”
As the owners of the Broncos grew weary of losing, they began to cautiously listen to Tebow’s assertion that he could contribute positively. His personal belief in himself, still deemed delusional by almost every sports commentators, is all he brought to the field. And then he begins to win. Perplexed pauses abound. Initial critiques of luck, bad opponents, and coincidence, yield to what they are now calling “The Tim Tebow Effect.”
But Tebow balks at taking credit for creating any effect. In post game interviews, he let’s everyone know, the teaching of Jesus Christ, delivered by his parents, did indeed turn him into a quarterback. The world’s response? “He talks about Jesus too much!” This was the assertion made by Jake “the snake” Plummer, Kurt “the Christian” Warner, and a host of others! How dare he give an external locus of control to his success! How dare he he make his touchdown dance one of kneeling in prayer!
Why all the hate for what is a refreshing and rare show of humility? Tim is the guy on the assembly line at a plant who stays an extra hour and corrects the flawed widgets passed over by other workers. He the guy who gives everyone else on the team (who hung up their aprons early) the credit for reaching production quota. Seeing new possibilities for production and profit, the management raises the goal. And now, even while cashing their bonus checks, his line mates hate him for raising the bar and exacting a new standard that might cause more to be expected of them. God forbid that someone should actually say that character matters.
His attitude, his faith, hated, doubted, and otherwise touted is why he wins. In another come from behind win Sunday against the Bears, his hand is on the plow and he looks neither left nor right for distractions. Tebow works harder than the most talented, believes more than the most hyped, and self evaluates more than the most experienced. He’s more humble than a ball boy, and we can’t wait for that to change.
He’s ever quick to agree to his shortcomings. Transparent about throwing the ball like his arm is broken. Honest about his poor footwork. Our rocks to attack him are useless, because with Tim Tebow, there are no glass walls. When he does lose again, we will strike a blow at the unique portion of his character that makes him win. For to acknowledge that intangible thing that makes ill equipped people accomplish great things, is to acknowledge that we too, each of us, have the power to BELIEVE. This is what we fear about Tebow and his faith. What he is making use of is available to all of us regardless of circumstance. He is setting an example, win or lose, that we can do more, if we choose a positive direction of self and other affirmation. How I wish our politicians, local and in Washington, had that kind of faith!
Today’s players, often “act as if” even if their body of evidence for winning is to the contrary. Their personal “showmanship” trumps the team’s outcome. They in turn become reality show stars having accomplished nothing. “Faith without works is dead,” says the Bible. Tim Tebow has works. No matter your faith, your assignment of causation, your explanation of someone’s success, you can’t argue with his results.
We all need encouragement, especially today. It gives the working man confidence. And confidence, as Charleston Heston said, is very sexy. Tim’s anti-”swagger” encourages my belief. In a world where evil jumps in saying “look at me,” and goodness fears to tread, I say BRAVO and ENCORE! Touchdown Jesus has left Notre Dame, and now resides in Denver Colorado! Hallelujah!
(For more on sports and parenting see my Blogspot commentary)