He is one of the most decorated NCAA Football players of all time. He worked for years as a Missionary spreading the Gospel in Southeast Asia. He is arguably the worst passing quarterback in the NFL. He is by far the most talked about sports personality.
Quite a combination. Much of the talk of Tim Tebow relates to his very obvious religious beliefs. I say they are obvious because Tebow kneels in prayer during the game. He points to the sky all the time. He invokes the name of his God every time he has a chance to do so. Tebow’s antics inspired an entire internet meme called #Tebowing. People would kneel as if in prayer at the most awkward times and places and snap a picture. This is aside from the very clever #occupytebow movement which is not relevant to this blog post.
The point is that Tebow takes his religion very seriously. Whenever athletes thank God and praise God for their accomplishments it can be irksome to everyone. Religious people of the same religion, religious people of other religions and atheists can all find ways to be offended.
Does God really want the Home team to beat the Away team? Does God really give special powers to some teams and not to other teams? Does a player’s religious conviction really have an impact on a game?
I think the answer to all those questions is no. See: Whose Fault is a Dropped Game-Wininng Touchdown? for my feelings on this one.
In fact, please read that post because you’ll see that I actually agree with Tim Tebow on this issue.
Tebow was asked about invoking God as part of his athletic accomplishments and he didn’t take the bait. He answered that he doesn’t give God the credit or the blame. He is merely using his platform as a way of teaching people about his religion. He emphatically denied that his religion gives him an edge or that he can play better because of God. He focused on the opportunity to use his fame and success to glorify the name of his God.
He also mentions that football does not define him. He is defined by his morality and good acts. He is defined by his character. So his religion is not a cause. It is merely a basis for his life. It is not part of his game on the field.
I think that is a great answer. Great job by Tebow.
What is interesting to me is that Tebow invokes the name of his God, Jesus, and that is somewhat acceptable within society. Imagine a Muslim player praising Allah or a Jewish person praising God (not Jesus). I don’t think they would be as accepted.
Christian displays of religious fervor are far more tolerated than that of any other religion. It can make the rest of us feel uncomfortable. Tebow is doing it in a way that minimizes the discomfort for others but even his way has rankled many people. It would be wise for people to limit religion to religious activities and not pepper it throughout their public lives.
Watch Tebow’s interview. The religious stuff is near the end: