Friday, September 4, 2009

Tebow Tailgate: Why Fans Love Tebow

Here is your must-read of the day -- and a perfect lead-up to tomorrow's season opener: The Palm Beach Post's Christine Evans (a feature writer, not usual PBP Gators beat writer and friend-of-Teblog Ben Volin) with a terrific take: It's way more than Tebow's football skills.

Money quote from Evans:
It is impossible to separate Tebow-the-player - a two-time national champion, the only sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy and, now, the senior quarterback upon whom all great Gator things depend - from Tebow-the-person. It just can't be done.
Then Evans digs into Tebow's faith, and how that is intrinsically tied to who Tebow is -- and how fans feel about him. More Evans:
Hey, is this kid a preacher or a ball player? The answer, of course, is he's a little bit - no, a lot - of both. When people ask him to list his priorities, which they often do, Tebow ranks them thusly: faith, family, academics, football, social life. At least, his fans note, football rates ahead of dating.
Then Evans does something that I haven't seen any other writer do: She asks a couple of Jewish people about how they feel about Tebow's very open religious life. Tennessee hoops coach Bruce Pearl:
I'm all for what Tim Tebow is doing. I think the message is, 'Tim, thank you as a father and thank you as a coach, and I'll try to explain to my younger children how much we are alike in our love of God.'
And the head of Florida's campus Hillel -- an organization for Jewish students:

He's so genuine that they know he's not doing this for TV or anything. And for many Jewish students, they know Tebow believes in Jesus, but it becomes an easy transition in their minds to a belief in God. Or whatever it is they happen to believe in.
This actually gibes with my feeling about it, and the analysis I have offered here: Tebow doesn't impose his evangelical Christianity on folks who don't want to hear it, and -- through his wider (and secular) media platforms, he is much more likely to talk about community service, or keeping your life in perspective relative to suffering around the world.

That is why I regularly take issue with the over-simplified notion that because Tebow is an evangelical Christian -- and because he does things like put Bible verses on his eye-black or allow the media to come with him on visits to prisons -- he is about imposing his beliefs on everyone.

This is hardly an unweighty topic for a Friday afternoon before a football Saturday, but this was a nuanced feature that approached Tebow from a uniqe angle. Worth your read between now and kickoff.

But, make no mistake: Who's ready for Saturday night?

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