Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tim Tebow: Living up to the Hype

A new college football champion will be decided tonight and one of the game's most visible stars ever, Florida QB Tim Tebow, will be on display for a national television audience. Already possessing a national championship (won as a freshmen backup) and a Heisman last year as a sophomore, there is little left for Tebow to accomplish in the way of honors and awards. But it seems that football glory is not the most important thing in his life.

I wrote a post a number of weeks ago in which I discussed the use of Bible verses for motivational purposes in athletic contests. The post contained a picture and mention of Tebow, who likes to write a Bible verse on his eye black strips each game. Though this could have been perceived as a slight towards Tebow, that was not my intent. I actually was using him as an example of one who seems to realize that winning football games is not what life is all about.

I don't know Tim personally, but he does appear to be the real deal. His charity and missionary work is well-documented and his relationship with Christ is obviously important to him.'s Pat Forde wrote about the tendency that some reporters have to want to show that Tebow isn't as a great a guy as many believe. After being asked a particularly lame question at a press conference, Tebow had this response regarding how he is perceived
"You know, everybody, they can look and say how easy it is. But it's definitely not that easy. The difference is 'cause not many people want to wake up at 5, go through workouts, go speak to young kids, go back, eat lunch, go to class, go to tutoring, go speak at a prison at night, come back. I mean, more people would do those things; they just don't want to sacrifice.
You know, there's a lot of leaders out there. But, unfortunately, there aren't a lot of good ones. So that's always been my dream and my goal, is to be someone like Danny Wuerffel was to me, to be someone that a parent can say, 'Hey, this kid did it the right way.' That's always been my dream and my goal more so than winning a trophy or winning a championship.
So if it's cynical or whatnot, that's fine. If people don't believe it, that's fine. There's always going to be naysayers, people that are going to say it's fake. But that's fine because you can't control everybody. But I can control what I do, my attitude, how I approach the situation. So how I approach the situation is I want to do everything in my power that football gives me to influence as many people as I can for the good because that's gonna mean so much more when it's all said and done than just playing football and winning championships."
Tim Tebow is an extremely talented, competitive and driven athlete. He's also a young man that seems to have his head on straight and is committed to live a life that honors God. Due to his success on the field and activities off of it, he is getting an amount of exposure and attention that few college athletes have received. But not all reporters are skeptical. David Whitley, a columnist with my local newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel, commented on how his peers interact with Tebow:

"Religion makes some people uncomfortable, and athletes spouting it makes them downright irritable.We roll our eyes when they thank God after a game. Sam Bradford is also a card-carrying Christian. What if he shows up Thursday with "John 3:16" on his face? Would God have to go to a sudden-death verse-off to pick a winner?About the 152nd question, Tebow tried to explain. He doesn't believe God gives a hoot who wins. Philippians 4:13 just inspires Tebow to perform better. That means being humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Tebow said the verse has inspired him countless times in and out of games. We may not believe that, we may think it's all just a psychological crutch. That doesn't matter.Tebow believes it helps him, therefore it does."
I am not aware of where Whitley stands when it comes to matters of faith, but I think his assesment was right on. Our society tends to enjoy seeing people rise to fortune and fame and then come crashing down to earth due to failure or scandal. We are especially suspicious of those that claim their relationship with God helped them to achieve the prominence they've found themselves in. Usually the people that seem too good to be true are. I hope in this case, that which appears to be too good is actually true.

If you'd like to learn some more about how their Christian faith affects the life of Tim Tebow, Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford and several other football players, check out Beyond the Ultimate.

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