More on "The Tebow Thing"

Art Remillard

Isn't Friday a perfect day for some shameless self-promotion?  I think so.

A while back, I blogged about my "Religion and Sports" course and mentioned Tim Tebow--the quintessential "Sportian" and "superhuman" cult of personality.  Somehow this caught the eye of Sean Gregory, a sportswriter at Time.  So the other evening we had a delightful conversation, and here's the result...

...while some guys wear religion on their sleeves, Tebow literally covers his body with faith. He writes out bible verses on his eye-black [the face paint athletes wear to reduce glare]. Tebow is an unabashed believer, who views the world in black and white. He once told a group of prisoners: "If you have Jesus Christ in your heart, you are going to spend eternity in heaven. If you don’t, you’re going to spend eternity in hell."

Before the 2010 Super Bowl, Tebow threw himself, headlong, into one of the country’s most divisive and deeply personal debates — abortion — by appearing in a pro-life Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family, the prominent Evangelical organization. (One touchstone of Tebow lore: his mother, Pam, suffered from pregnancy complications with Tim, and a doctor told her that an abortion might save her life. The devout Pam gave birth to Tim anyway, and many of Tebow’s supporters view his success as a message from God.)

Tebow seems to have crossed a line that most athletes have respected. They’ll celebrate their own faith, but won’t challenge yours. “This is a sticking point,” says Arthur Remillard, a religious studies professor at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pa., who teaches a course on sports and religion, and starts it off with a Tebow discussion. “It’s one thing for an athlete to say 'Thank you, Jesus,' on a Sunday afternoon. It’s another for him to make what amounts to a declaration that ‘I am morally superior to you.’ There’s a segment of the fan base that’s not too keen on hearing that.” Continue . . .


paul said…
Tebow's a zealous rookie player who's trying to quickly learn the pro-QB game. He's also gratefully zealous about his life, family and faith. As athletes go he's a good NFL behavioral role model, so far.

But your accusation to TIME that Tebow's manifests "what amounts to a declaration that ‘I am morally superior to you’" seems like a cheap shot. When has he ever said or even implied that he was morally superior to anyone? Evidently he has a relationship with a Saviour who's loved and cared for him; why should he be permanently intimidated into silence about that or anything else? His sport of choice could use a little of that influence, it would seem. What other NFL players are meekly intimidated into silence about what they are, do, have, think, and believe?
Art said…
To be clear, I was making a general statement about Christian athletes, and not directly applying it to Tebow. Hence, I'm quoted as saying "an athlete."

In my actual conversation with the author, I said that I didn't think this applied to Tebow. In response, the author mentioned the instances that he cited in the article: his comment to some prisoners, and a line from his autobiography.

You might or might not agree with the author's contention that these constitute statements of moral/spiritual superiority. But again, this was his conclusion and not mine.
Esteban said…
What is the big deal with Tim Tebow, why is he such a controversial figure. You have the one side that loves Tebow, than you have the other side that just hates him. I don’t feel there is a middle ground where they don’t love him, but they don’t hate him. Everyone has his own opinion about Tebow, the ones who dislike Tebow, say that he is just not NFL material, and the ones, who love him, don’t bring out football at all, but say that he is just such a good Christian. I think people are just so use to having their idols disappointed them, that they don’t believe that Tebow is truly a good person. Also, the other time I heard it on the sports radio, criticizing Tebow for praying on the field during games, and how would it affect his leadership as a quarterback. Moreover, they argue that Tebow should leave religion off the field. When you have some many athletes on the news for not for the good reasons I don’t understand why some many people are against Tebow.