I have never, in my 30 years of following sports thoroughly and knowledgeably, seen such hate from the sports media and others directed at a player as is directed at Tim Tebow. I should qualify this by saying directed at a regular player who has not gotten into trouble – this is not a case of someone who has committed a career-ending error or some heinous crime. Yet Tebow seems to get people’s gizzards. My specific reference points are things like the Sports Hub 98.5 FM where Felger and Mazz, among others, trash Tebow regularly, and websites like Deadspin and KSK, which I read regularly. Callers to the radio shows seem to really dislike him as well. Why is he so polarizing?
Tebow is a committed Christian who speaks about his faith often and truly lives it. He is also a successful athlete competing in the NFL in an unconventional way. Read the wiki article to get an idea on his background and activities. The trashing of Tebow usually harps on two things:
-His arm. The criticism is he cannot throw at a pro level, and this may well be legit. The Broncos have committed to an option offense and he is running it with success, although most games have him struggling and then pulling off a win in the 4th quarter. Again, this is a decent and fair criticism and may well play out. For now, the team is winning and his teammates have his back.
-His faith. Tebow gets hammered on being a Christian in a way I never saw Kurt Warner of Hakeem Olajuwon get attacked for their strong Christian and Islamic faith. The guys on the local sports shows are ridiculous. They will side with him, when a caller says he is a fraud, by pointing out, truthfully, that he is not a hypocrite and backs up his beliefs with action, but they then say he is “insufferable” and “hammers us over the head” with his faith. Does he? He is not grabbing the mic from a reporter and with wild eyes shouting about Christianity; he talks about it as part of his normal life, answers questions about it, etc. That is all. We have become such an effete society that we fear talking about things on a normal level. If religion is important to someone why can’t he mention it, among other things, in an interview? This is not the same as trying to forcibly convert someone.
I find myself here in the interesting position of defending an evangelical Christian when, in my experience, most evangelicals don’t even consider Orthodox people to be Christians. I have no idea what, if anything, Tebow thinks on this issue – I have certainly seen nothing that tells me he looks down on Orthodox or Catholics.
Tebow seems like a good guy who is enjoying success in the NFL. Who knows how long this will last, but for now let’s enjoy the competitive games and his spirit.