Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why all the Tebow hate?

Throughout his career at the University of Florida and now in his second year with the Denver Broncos, Tim Tebow continues to be one of the most polarizing athletes … and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I’ve always been a Tim Tebow fan; I think he seems to be a truly good person and a great athlete – you can debate his game as much as you want, there is no denying his athletic abilities.

A guy who is a great athlete and is a man of faith is constantly bashed for both things. There seems to be no middle ground with Tebow: you either love him or you hate him; you think he’s a good quarterback or you think he’s overrated; you think his constant comeback wins are a result of skill or are all luck. Tebow’s athletic ability, his quarterbacking ability, his faith and even his “purity” have been mocked and questioned.

It’s like people think he’s too good (i.e. too virtuous) to be true. They think he is too perfect in his persona and are just waiting – and have been waiting for years – for him to be revealed as a hypocrite. Yet after nearly six years of no closet skeletons appearing, people turn to ripping his game and mocking his faith. You can rip his game all you want, but mocking anyone’s religious beliefs crosses a major line.

As a devout Christian who is very upfront about his faith, Tebow regularly drops to one knee to thank the Lord. Recently, his praying has gone viral, with people around the world posting pictures of themselves “Tebowing” — dropping to one knee with their head on their fist in “prayer.” Yes, "Tebow" has become a verb. But even within this viral sensation there is a split – those who do it in admiration of Tebow, and those who do it to mock him.

It’s not only fans who openly mock him – some of his fellow NFL players have jumped on the boat. When Denver took on Detroit about a month ago, Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch sacked Tebow during the first quarter and instead of screaming or standing over Tebow, he instead dropped to his knee and “Tebowed.” In the second quarter Lion Tony Scheffler caught a touchdown pass and celebrated by “Tebowing.”

Whether they realized it or not, they were mocking his religious beliefs. What Tebow is doing when he drops to his knee is thanking God – it is similar to a Catholic blessing himself or a Muslim bowing to Allah. Do we mock athletes who do those things? Of course not, because it would be viewed as distasteful. Yet it seems “OK” to do it to Tebow. The defense that those haters spew out that Tebow’s decision to be so open about his faith opens him to scrutiny makes me question where all of our values are.

I’m certainly not as devout as Tebow is, but I respect the fact that he is, just as I respect a Muslim woman who dresses according to the hijab or a Jewish man who wears a kippah or yarmulke – it is not my right to question another person’s beliefs.

What makes me respect Tebow even more is that he stays quiet in this debate. He lets people “Tebow” – whether it’s mocking or complimentary – and continues to live his life the way he believes is right. He lives quietly; we know little about his personal life other than he is a Chrsitan and does charity work in the Philippines, and  he is humble.

On the field, his stats aren’t great but his record is; and every fan must admit that they would rather have a quarterback with bad numbers and wins than great numbers and no wins. It may not be pretty or conventional, but time and time again Tim Tebow has proven himself to be a winner.

Love him or hate him, you have to respect Tim Tebow.

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