Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Don't Bully Tebow, Even Though I Know You Totally Want To

I am not a Tim Tebow fan.  I have absolutely no personal interest in him.  That’s not to say I hate him, but I can see how people are annoyed by him.

Take a guy who is not the prototypical NFL quarterback, who is actually not a particularly good quarterback,  and surround him with a media circus despite the fact that he is a back up (likely the most talked about second string QB in the league’s history) and you are bound to get sports fans upset.  They want to hear about the good players, not have personal interest stories rule Sports Center every night.

Perhaps even more polarizing is Tebow’s religion.  Let me be clear, God does not give a crap which team wins…ever.  Whatever all-powerful deity you believe in stays out of such matters.  They probably already know what the outcome will be and, if they really cared that much, would keep you from getting your hopes up.  If you think your god cares about sports, then you must either believe that Cubs fans are being punished for their evil ways (the North side of Chicago existing as a virtual Sodom and/or Gomorrah) or they are the chosen people and the past 100-plus years have been their own version of wandering through the desert in search of the land of milk and honey.  Maybe they’ll get there next year.

Though I accept the fact that Tebow has the potential to annoy, I encourage you to hold back on any criticism that does not revolve around his football talent.  We have all begun to mercilessly criticize Tebow, pointing out anything we can about his shortcomings.  We laugh about how childlike and “excited” he is about being a Jet.  We mock his kneeling in the end zone to pray.  Everything he does is watched intently, even by his detractors, just to have something to pick apart later.

Trust me, I get it.  Finally the jock quarterback looks like a tool in front of the nation.  The tormented nerd (or at least slightly less popular kid) inside of all of us wants to exploit his weakness.  We want to make him pay for all the wedgies, noogies, swirlies and titty twisters of our youth by pointing out what a clown he looks like shifting from foot to foot with his big goofy grin as he answers meaningless questions.  We long for the opportunity to pick on someone else for a change.  When the chance arises to pick on the jock, we want to dig the knife deep into their fragile psyche and shout, “Who’s laughing now, meathead?”

But if we have learned anything from Patrick Dempsey’s early acting career (and I know I certainly have), it should be that lighting the flaming bag of poop on your target’s lawn never feels as satisfying as you thought it would.  It just makes you realize you have become what you hated all along: a bully.

I urge everyone out there, especially parents, to stop bullying Tebow and see him for what he is.  A mediocre (at best) quarterback?  Yes.  But he is also a young man who is obviously very comfortable in his own skin.  He knows who he is and is not ashamed of it.  Tim Tebow may not own many members of the opposing secondary, but he owns his personality and there’s something to respect in that.

I give you this quote, lost in the sea of “excitement” at his press conference.  “It’s not about changing anything or doing anything different,” spoke Tebow near the end of the difficult to watch event, “it’s about being who I am.”

You may want to teach your kids to have better throwing mechanics.  You may not want them to be Christian.  You might want them to be master debaters and public speakers.  You may very well get them to be every single one of those things on a level higher than Tim Tebow.  However, if you start by instilling in them a sense of self-confidence and honesty equal to that of Tebow, you’ll be pointing them in the right direction.

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