by Cosmo Houck
I wanted to avoid this as much as possible.
As I have previously stated, I try very hard not to think about Tim Tebow because I don’t find it very interesting, and to the extent I have had a problem with him it primarily derives from the distorted ratio of media attention to quality of play. One more qualifier: if you’ll recall, after last week’s playoff game, I discussed how I am in fact rooting for Tebow and believe he might have an NFL future.
That said, following his playoff win there popped up this article over at American Spectator, which reminded me of these at The National Review. These articles have a problem that derives from a three step process they make:
They suggest that Tim Tebow’s success baffles and frustrates self appointed “intelligent” NFL observers;
They suggest that people are offended by his earnestness, sincerity, and professions of faith;
They conflate and combine the two objections.
I have felt all along that the Tebow “controversy” was more artificial than real (you’re welcome for my own small contribution to it, btw). I’m not sure statistical observers have been so much baffled and frustrated as expectedly awaiting Tebow’s regression to the mean; likewise, I don’t think many people resent him because of his faith.
I am not particularly religious. I was raised Catholic, however, and to the degree to which I have a problem with Tim Tebow’s faith—and this is a very small degree, mind—I feel a lot of people may share it with me.
When Tim Tebow celebrates every score by praying to God, when he wears his faith ostentatiously on his sleeve, when he so obviously brings it into the game of football, it suggests that he believes that football is a sport God should pay attention to.
Tebow is far from the only Christian in the NFL—in fact, I’d bet a large amount of money that I don’t have that the vast plurality of NFL players are Christian. When he wins football games, does that mean that God loves him more? That God has decided he is a “better” Christian than his colleagues? That’s what it smacks of whenever he gives the credit for every victory to the Lord Our Savior.
Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers are both very religious guys. Here are their thoughts on the “controversy”:
Warner: “I’d tell him, ‘Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.’”
Rodgers, quoting Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
For all the talk about how “humble” and “modest” he is, believing that God deigns to give a damn about how he plays a game is pretty arrogant. I don’t really have a personal problem with that—I think cockiness is a trait all exceptional athletes share (see again, Rodgers), but let’s call it like it is. You can dress it up, but when you think God consistently watches your highlight tape and helps you beat your Christian peers, you have a bit of a superiority complex. That’s why you shouldn’t talk about God in the context of football.