Tonight, in the BCS National Championship, the Florida Gators will lose to Oklahoma by 10 points (at least, that's what I want to happen). Leading them to this big disappointment will be Tim Tebow, a self-professed evangelical who has captured the attention and affirmation of the sports media (especially UF homers Todd Blackledge and Kirk Herbstreit) through his play on the field and demeanor off it.
Altogether, I think Tebow is a great example of how masculinity, race, evangelicalism, and celebrity culture intermix. Eileen Luhr and I talked about this at the AHA this year, discussing his parents' missionary work in the Philippines and involvement in legitimizing the Christian homeschooling movement. Tebow himself has also had connections to the Fellowship of Christian Atheletes (an organization certainly deserving of more study) and his own summer and spring break work in various missions fields has marked him as a sort of folk hero in evangelical circles.
I know we've talked a decent amount on this blog about football and religion, but I'd really like some comparative focus. I guess I get the grounding for Tebow's status as an evangelical folk hero. But is there something specifically evangelical about his status? Would similar social or religious dynamics underscore a non-white quarterback? Or a quarterback/star player at, say, Notre Dame or BYU?
Any thoughts on this would be welcome, especially since the big game's coming up. . . as long as, of course, everyone agrees that Matthew Stafford would have been better than Tebow on a neutral field.