Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tebow Tears: The Larger Life Lesson

There were a couple of really important takeaways from the tears shed by Tim Tebow as the SEC Championship Game ended.

(1) They were a really big deal. "Tim Tebow crying" displaced "John 16:33" as the No. 1 top trending search on Google.

(2) Fans and media went nuts. Some saw it as the most competitive player in college football history being just that; some thought it was over the top.

(3) Alabama fans and Tebow "haters" (to the extent they hate and don't secretly wish he played for their team) had quite a moment with the schadenfreude.

The blog Tebow's Eye-Black -- which has been a terrific destination all season long and offers a unique complement to strictly secular coverage -- has a wonderfully insightful perspective:
If the fascination and schadenfreude of Tebow's crying is any indication, it's that we as a society know how to celebrate a victory, but do not know how to process and mourn a loss and emerge from it stronger and freer. Hopefully, Tebow and his eye black can be a good example and lesson in this as well.
T.E.B. makes a brilliantly counter-intuitive point -- this isn't blind Tebow partisanship or knee-jerk contrarianism you see in sports media -- and it's this:

Ultimately, Tebow crying had more impact than if Tebow had won and been celebrating. There would be no focus on the underlying message on the eye-black.

That's not to say T.E.B. -- like the rest of us -- wasn't rooting intensely for a Florida win.

But to the extent that losses are a part of sports -- and a part of live -- Tebow comes closer to fulfilling his personal mission, beyond football, by the way he dealt with adversity, not success.

I'm still thinking about the larger meaning of the loss in the game and how it might (or might not) play into Tebow's larger legacy.

But to echo something from my Yahoo column this week -- which had at least one side of my larger take on the game's result, but not the whole picture -- there is something more compelling about "Tragic Tebow" than "Triumphalist Tebow."

However, that's just semantic shorthand -- I don't mean to suggest that losing a game is, in fact, "tragic" in any meaningful way. What I was trying to express is that the idea that the ending to Tim Tebow's Florida story might include NOT reaching his goals seems so out of place.

But it makes his larger story that much more compelling.

Dealing with disappointment is part of life. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes not. But everyone -- even Tim Tebow -- goes through it.

To the extent that Tebow is, simultaneously, someone who is larger-than-life AND someone who is worthy of emulation, that is comforting, whether you are dealing with a football loss or something that actually, ultimately matters.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post; I like your interest in analyzing the "larger story", the "mythic Tebow" stuff, which I see has been around for a while even though I only started learning about him a few months ago. I agree that "Tebow comes closer to fulfilling his personal mission, beyond football, by the way he dealt with adversity, not success."