Tebow's boosters had been lying low after he lost his last three games in ignominious fashion, as his giddy detractors danced atop the battlements. Then came Sunday, and the sure knowledge that the Tebow fire will burn hotly for some time. Yesterday came news that he is America's most popular athlete.
That's a little misleading, though, since apparently 3% of the total vote is sufficient to earn the title. While it means that more respondents chose Tebow as their favorite than Kobe Bryant, it doesn't say anything about the other 97%, a good number of whom are vocally unimpressed. In my original post on the matter, I noted that "everything about Tim Tebow seems to provoke something."
Why? More to the point, is it because of his faith?
For some it undoubtedly is. Naturally, Saturday Night Live has had fun at his expense, though frankly I found their treatment of him pretty tame compared to their obnoxious portrayal of Jesus himself (those with a low tolerance for blasphemy should not click the link). Certain politically obsessed columnists resent him as a "white, God-fearing athlete who believes in so-called 'traditional' family values", while former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer just wants him to "shut up" about his faith. All this hubbub tells us more about them than it does about Mr. Tebow, who has remained remarkably humble and low-key in the face of it all.
Having said this, it's unfair to paint all his critics with the same broad brush as "haters". For many, it's a good deal less profound that that. Sports commentators, for example, make their living by telling us what to think about athletes, and Tebow has thus far confounded a great many of them, because his skills aren't supposed to translate well from college to the pros (or so we've heard over and over). Public personalities don't like to be confounded publicly, and each has had to choose whether to eat crow or double down in the face of Tebow's early success.
For Christians who like to cheer for Tim Tebow, I'm with you. I'm having a blast watching the man play, and I think it's admirable that he's assertive about his faith, humble about his success, and gracious about his detractors. We do need to be careful about idolizing him, as I'm sure he would be the first to warn us about the dangers of idolatry. He will certainly let us down at times, both in sport and in life, because he is our brother, not our Lord.
Rather, as I said previously:
I will pray for Tim Tebow ... that he will continue to live out his faith with integrity.Hmm ... so far so good!
Oh, and that he will develop a quick release and hit timing routes over the middle of the field.