The Tebowing Phenomenon – Good or Bad?
Officially this word does not exist but the action it describes of getting down on one knee (ostensibly to pray) regardless of what others are doing seems to be catching the imagination of the nation.
The whole thing began with Tim Tebow, the quarterback for the Broncos who has made a show of praying during games. He has done a fantastic job in consistently pulling desperate wins out of hopeless situations for his team. His playbook seems to involve messing around without clear focus or great plays for three quarters and then rising to the challenge to fight impossible odds to beat the opposing team in the final minutes of play. Apparently he is a last-minute man who can’t seem to get his head in the game until it becomes desperate. The pressure and stress of being in such a hopeless situation at the end of the third quarter gives him the adrenaline surge he seems to need to get his act together. Makes you wonder what would happen if he could get his focus going through the whole game. Playing the way he does it’s no wonder he feels the need for prayer! The Denver Post calls it a prayer for mercy.
Tebow has a strong Christian background – his parents were missionaries and he had the experience (good and bad no doubt) of Christian and home schooling. He has had hands-on personal experience as a short-term missionary as well. Understand him or not, the football world has been given a clear message of where Tim Tebow stands in the matter of his faith.
Others have picked up the prayer stance and are busy copying it wherever they can cash in on the impact it brings. The east coast kids who used the move to disrupt their school were probably not into prayer as much as disruption – at least, that’s what the school teachers decided when they suspended them. It’s the cool thing to do so everyone wants to be in on the craze. Of course you can buy t-shirts and trinkets with the Tebow move on them, reports and reactions are all over the internet and TV, turning up in kids sports and on and on and on.
Predictably, the move is generating animosity too. Many people see red when they learn of yet another outbreak of Tebowing.
Others find the action worthy of ridicule and some of his opponents have mimicked him in their victories on the field. They say they don’t want to offend anyone but they claim that Tebow’s mixture of faith and sport is ‘over the top.”
Seems that Tebow is a sincere and genuine person who really wants to do his job well and he has the ability to pull the best out of his fellow team members when, and only when, the situation becomes desperate enough.
So what’s it all about and is it a healthy thing?
A sample of comments accompanying news items and blogs produces comments like these:
“I think it is disrespectful but totally expected for people to make fun of a man of faith.” Slickwillie.
“Who gives a . . . ? This guy is so overrated.” Ret1stcalv.
“. . . I’m sure God is very concerned about the outcome of professional sporting events . . . maybe he bet some coin on the Broncos. . . “ wtjax.
“Overrated is an understatement – the guy’s a hypocrite and a fake . . . From a religious perspective he’s a joke. The fact that he’s a headline is preposterous and that anyone is giving him free publicity plus turning his name into a verb is asinine to say the least. You people in favor of him . . . GET A LIFE!” Tebowbites.
“I’ve never paid too much attention to it, but does Tebow drop to a knee to pray after an interception or a loss? Pet_rock.
Some folks are strongly in favor of the man as a person, not so many are sure of his ability as a player, while others run the whole range from “slightly ticked” to “full-blown irritation” about him. Little of this is rational, helpful or even particularly interesting, but he has provoked a reaction from a wide variety of people.
Leaving his playing skills to the sports-critics, what are we to make of his “faith stand?”
It’s commendable that he is willing to make a firm stand for what he believes and it sure makes a change from the more usual diet of brawling, womanizing and drug-taking we hear so frequently among players. It’s great to have a player whole is prepared to stand up for wholesome values and make the effort to bring his faith into everyday life. He’s certainly not “ashamed of the gospel” but we are left to wonder if he’s got the formula quite right.
Here’s some of the questions that come to mind with each time this practice is seen or discussed:
What about less outspoken Christians on the other team; does God favor Tim Tebow’s prayer over theirs? And if so, is it because Tebow is more public in expressing his faith?
We have a small dilemma trying to process if God actually cares about who wins a football game and how he can resolve the situation of having two believers on opposing teams, both praying to win. What happens when the fans begin to pray for victory, how does God decide which team loses and which set of fans is disappointed? How do the losers resolve their faith crisis in reconciling their prayer for victory with their loss?
If this game has become a matter of faith instead of a sporting contest, when can we expect Tebow to pull together his first three quarters? Wouldn’t playing consistently be a far better witness for his faith than fourth quarter desperation? Seems there’s a character issue going on here.
Is his prayer answered if he loses? Could his prayer be answered if he didn’t do the little kneeling thing? Does the kneeling thing put God on notice that he needs to come through or be humiliated and how is this different from old-fashioned superstitious idolatry (the please your god so he has to bless you routine) ? What exactly does God get credit for? Who gets the blame?
Seems Tebow is a very sincere young man but his approach is producing strongly negative results, not because of some clash with paganism in our nation but simply because it is not an appropriate thing to do. This sport is not a spiritual battlefield and this game is not about God. God suffers no loss if one team loses nor does he gain if another team wins. No one will become a Christian because a player makes a public show of praying but evidently many people are being alienated by it. It’s not working out well.
Jesus put it this way, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Tim, what would Jesus do? The answer seems pretty clear.
Related articles (they’re everywhere!)
- Tebow mixes faith and football with no apologies (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Is Tim Tebow Being Ridiculed for His Faith? (fallenfromgrace.net)
- Students Suspended for Tebowing (newser.com)
- Tebowing Goes Global! (thedailybeast.com)
- If We Root Against Tim Tebow, Are We Rooting Against God? (bleacherreport.com)
Posted on December 17, 2011, in Active faith, Self-awareness and tagged Christian, Denver Bronco, faith and reality, God and sport, Jesus, Prayer, ridicule, Tim Tebow. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.