Jesus Needs New PR

An op-ed piece in one of Nashville’s local newspapers suggests that Tim Tebow might be the most polarizing American athlete since Mohammad Ali.

While that might be a stretch, it does seem like a lot of people are chatting about America’s love/hate relationship with Tim Tebow. Googling “Tim Tebow polarizing” produces a multitude of features, posts, opinions from people trying to understand why Tebow creates such an emotional divide among the American public.

I can understand why some Americans love him. He’s obviously talented, nice-looking, possessing an “it” quality that attracts a multitude of attention.

And while I don’t understand why somebody would hate the guy (he seems pretty nice), I do get why some Americans are annoyed by his presence. His actions often seem obnoxious, sometimes purposefully so, as if he’s trying to add fuel to the angst that people already feel toward him.

But aren’t a lot of athletes obnoxious, seemingly arrogant?

So does the Tebow love/hate thing come down to his faith? Is Tim’s love for Jesus to blame for the American public who LOVES him and the American public who HATE him? Did Jesus really do that?

I’m not convinced. Lots of athletes praise God/Jesus for their skill. Lots of them donate their time to Christian charities. And lots of them are outspoken about how much they love Jesus.

And while those athletes probably have a few crazy fans and a few crazy haters, it’s not a national pastime.

David Boclair of Nashville’s City Paper pieces writes,

What sets Tebow apart is that he never stops talking about his faith.

Is that why people feel such passion–good and bad–when Tebow comes to mind?

Boclair seems to think so.

If he discussed chocolate chip cookies or puppy dogs or sunny days as often as he does religion, the backlash would be the same — regardless of how appropriate his priorities might be — because the vast majority of people in this country want their sports heroes to be athletes first. (Read the whole piece here.)

While I agree with a lot of Boclair’s point, I do think that, being obnoxious about Jesus tends to create an even greater divide than what the topic of chocolate chip cookies might cause.

And let’s face it, while Tebow’s athleticism astounds and his clean-cut image is a nice change, sometimes his displays of Christianity are downright obnoxious. From the scripture verses painted underneath his eyes to all of his “Tebowing” (which has a Tumblr site dedicated to it AND a Twitter account…) to dropping the name of Jesus so much it almost seems in vain.

Expressing personal faith in a public setting is one thing (and usually a good thing), but when you do it all the time and to such extensive degrees, isn’t it possible that “too much of a good thing” eventually backfires?

Should Tebow really be surprised when his faith gets turned into punch lines?

Again, I’m not saying that he should stop being vocal about his faith. But isn’t it possible for one–even a famous one–to be passionate and outspoken about their love for Jesus and do it with humility? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be done?

But while humility mixes well with a belief in Jesus, maybe it doesn’t mix well with NFL football. And maybe it’s difficult for Tebow to separate his love of God with his love of the game…

Then again, maybe Boclair is right…

Roughly a month ago, though, he was named Denver’s starting quarterback and his team started to win — two in a row and three of four overall, to be exact as they enter Thursday’s game against the New York Jets.

Suddenly the spotlight on him as a football player shines much brighter. His chance is now. If he proves he’s a capable NFL quarterback, people will let him say whatever he wants — as often as he wants.

It might not be right. But it’s reality.

For the most part, NFL winners can do what they want how they want to do it. And taking Jesus’s name with you every time you throw a football into the end zone is one thing, but when your touchdown “kneel and pray” act gets its own #Hashtag, isn’t that another thing altogether?

What do you think?

Tebow or not Tebow is a post from: Jesus Needs New PR

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus