I’ve been working in the sports industry for some time now and I am trying to remember when a player like Tim Tebow has ever come around in sports. I’ve never seen so many people split down the middle about an athlete. You either love him or hate him and there are very few in between. I’m not gonna say either are wrong. As a matter of fact, I’m one of those rare individuals who can see a little of both sides. I don’t hate him nor do I think he’s God’s gift to football (crap…already breaking out the religious tones…) but I have to admit…I am just as fascinated with him as everyone else is. Every sports news source, whether it’s television or radio or newspaper or the internet, is SWARMING all over this guy, relentlessly pursuing his every move, hoping to either see him fall on his face or hoping that he becomes the next big quarterback of the future. For me…I have one thing that I’d like to see from him…
I don’t want him to be a fake.
Here’s the thing about athletes…they are a narcissistic bunch. They seem to have only one thing on their minds once they step foot on a college campus and that is money. Okay…and maybe girls. And possibly tattoos. But for the MOST part…they wanna make money. And they do. They make a TON of money playing sports for a living. Oh, I imagine most athletes and coaches and owners dream of winning a national championship or a Super Bowl…but for the most part, everyone wants to be rich. Now…let’s not kid ourselves…money makes the world go round. We all work for it. Some work harder than others and some are privileged enough to be born in it. Some have to work a LOT harder to get it. In most cases, I can watch a movie like “The Blind Side” or “Rudy” and feel good about the fact that some athletes really do come from a tough life and sports turns that life around for them. And that’s great! But it can easily be said that some teachers and mechanics and executives ALSO come from tough backgrounds and become quite successful and you don’t see movies made about them. Professional sports is a monster all in its own. We LOVE sports and we idolize athletes mostly for what they do on a football or soccer field or a baseball diamond or basketball court or golf course or whatever. We crave that competition. We love to watch the battle. It happened in the early 1st Century as stadiums were built to watch men fight to their death and it continues today every time a player takes a hit or lands a strong blow or survives a crash against the far wall. It’s an adrenaline rush and it takes us out of our mundane lives for a little bit and entertains us. But…just because we are entertained, does that make those that entertain us role models? In my opinion…absolutely not.
So then along comes this guy Tim Tebow. If you read about him (and who hasn’t lately) he has had an illustrious career. Won lots of high school accolades at Nease High School in Florida, went on to win a Heisman Trophy while a sophomore at Florida University, won a couple national championships, got drafted by the Denver Broncos and is now their starting quarterback and this year has created quite a stir with the way he’s been winning games. It’s reached pandemic proportions the way the media has been following his every move and it’s not without merit because the guy IS an interesting story. And we would love to see him fall on his face simply because…well…he’s almost TOO nice.
And that’s where I find myself fascinated with this story.
Tim Tebow likes to proclaim his love for God. He says a short prayer after every score. He slaps the other players’ helmets after they’ve just tackled him out of bounds. He smiles a lot. He seems to be a really, really nice guy and he’s winning in one of our nation’s most violent sports. So…we would LOVE to see him fail and get sent back down to 3rd string QB and then probably disappear into obscurity. But you know what…I don’t think it would matter one bit to Tim Tebow if that happened and maybe that’s what I kind of like about him. Because my gut feeling is that if Tim Tebow couldn’t make it in professional football, he would probably make a great high school coach or an excellent insurance salesman or an awesome teacher in a 3rd world country (he apparently has a degree in “Family, Youth & Community Sciences.” Whatever THAT is…) or an amazing culinary chef. Whatever the guy’s vocation is…he’d probably do it well and you know why?
Because he has faith not only in himself but also in his religion, in his family and in those that he keeps around him.
Sometimes it’s not about who is bigger or badder or more pissed off or who can hit the hardest. Sometimes it’s just having faith in yourself and going out there, giving it 100% and be willing to take a hit until you get the job done. Sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes there is pain involved. But Tim Tebow isn’t just a player that seem to get off preaching about his faith and then doing the opposite as soon as he gets on the field. Actually…he seems very genuine in what he is does and what he says. Ya know…despite what MY beliefs are, you gotta respect that coming from a guy who is running from 11 200+ pound dudes who all want to body slam him to the astro turf.
So Tim Tebow can pray all he wants. He can praise the Lord in every interview and say that the reason he wins is because he went to church Saturday night. Whatever the guy wants to believe is okay by me. As long as he stays true to the way that he is…I’m all good with that. The last thing I want to see is that he’s a fake. I am tired of the Brett Favre’s. I’m tired of the Mark McGwire’s. I’m tired of the athletes who are only out for themselves and who only play sports for money. In 1993, NBA star Charles Barkley was interviewed and stated that professional athletes should not be role models. His statement came across as ignorant to some simply because, in our culture, so many think so highly of them and place them on a pedestal. But I TOTALLY agree with him. We should not look to these men and women as role models. It’s a PARENTS job to raise their kids. If anything, a child’s parent should be their role models. And so, in that regard, I get what he was saying. Unfortunately our kids DO look up to pro athletes and that is unfortunate, especially when I see how so many of them act. I’m disappointed in the way they are when they are in public, disgracing their talents by beating their spouses or girlfriends, acting as if they are above everyone else simply because they have a physical skill. It’s unsettling that professional sports allow athletes to act this way by letting them return to play again after having been prosecuted for any crime. And it’s amazing we still continue to be fascinated with it, spending millions of dollars to watch these grown men and women act so childishly when they are given so many opportunities.
Tim Tebow has been given an opportunity. As much as I don’t want my kids looking up to anyone but me and my wife, it is refreshing to see an athlete who I can say is doing his job on and off the field and who has an attitude I would love for my son to have when he plays sports. Playing sports can be a satisfying experience and can set a child up for many different aspects of life. Most professional & collegiate athletes seem to have forgotten why they play in the first place. Tim Tebow seems to be quite the opposite. He seems to be quite at ease with who he is and what he can do and because of that, he has become a unique success story that we have become somewhat obsessed with.
And maybe this time, we have found an athlete who is deserving of our attention?
I can only hope so…