Even in defeat, Tim Tebow is an exemplary young man

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but my dog is perfect.  Her perfection isn’t always obvious to the uninitiated.  Those who don’t know what’s really important might think that, because she’s a mutt, she’s a little goofy looking.  They may feel that her habit of slipping on the kitchen floor and crashing into kitchen cabinets bespeaks a lack of that grace and elegance that the best dogs should have.  And maybe, just maybe, there are some who think that, because she doesn’t do tricks (no rolling, no shaking hands) she’s not too bright.  As I’ve said, the people who see only those traits — traits I find endearing — are missing her essence.

My dog is perfect because she is quite possibly the nicest dog in the world, which is exactly what one wants in a family pet.  She adores people, but in a diffident way that precludes aggressive friendliness.  She stands there, face smiling, tail wagging gently, signalling to people that she would be very happy to engage with them, but allowing them to make the first move.  No wonder the little girls in the neighborhood are her biggest fans.  She’s tidy, obedient, cuddly, playful, etc., etc.  Where it matters, she’s the best.

What does this have to do with Tim Tebow?

(Image by Craig ONeal)

Well, Tim Tebow didn’t win his last football game.  It was a biggie, and his team had a fairly ignominious defeat.  That allowed the usual crowd to talk about the fact that, as a quarterback, he’s still immature (which, given his age and short career falls into the “well, duh” category), that he’s got a bizarre playing technique, that he’s too slow to react, etc.  He is imperfect and, the naysayers imply, unworthy of the attention lavished upon him.

These naysayers, of course, are missing the point.  Well, I agree that Tim Tebow is not perfect, because no human being is, he is an exemplary young man in all the areas that matter.  He is deeply kind, humble, generous and, as we learned today, truly stalwart.  Despite sustaining very painful injuries after this weekend’s game was already good and lost, Tebow did not give up and, instead, played through the pain:

“I just wanted to show character. You just continue to fight and it doesn’t change who you are, how you play, how you go out there, you should be the same at all times,” Tebow said. “That’s what I wanted to show, it didn’t matter if it was the first play or the last play or you were down by 42. I was going to be the same player and I was still going to give everything I have. Because that’s all I have to give.”

There is a fundamental decency in that statement that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether Tebow ever wins another football game.  It is enough that this season placed Tebow in the public eye so that as many people as possible can hear his message.  Certainly, his message his about his faith, and I don’t want to belittle that core component of his personality.  To limit what he offers to faith, however, is to do him disservice.  His approach to his faith means that, in his conduct, he sends a larger message about the human spirit, and this is a message that should reach all young people, whether they share his faith or not.

Certainly, I want my children to know that you can be famous, good-looking, talented . . . and courageous, kind, generous, moral, chaste, and all the other good stuff he is.  In a world saturated with Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, Gansta Rappers, and all the other foul people polluting pop culture, what a tremendous gift Tebow is to our young people.  He uses his bully pulpit, not to tell people to use one sheet of toilet paper, buy $100,000 electric cars, or have sex, but, instead, to lead by example in the purest sense.  His is a doctrine of love, not just for God, but for human-kind.

It is this last point that makes a mockery of those anti-Tebowists who claim that they fear criticizing him lest his fans become violent.  No, I’m not kidding.  Max Lindenman, who feels as I do that Tebow has become an important symbol in the culture wars, caught a liberal columnist make precisely this point:

Yesterday in the Atlantic, I read a blog post that really turned my head. Robert Wright warns non-religious people, especially those he calls “liberals,” that “dissing” Tebow is a bad idea…because it might make the other guys really mad. Extreme “religious conservatives,” who “consider themselves to be at war with the prevailing culture,” will take cracks against Tebow as cues to “reject the entire liberal agenda, ranging from gay rights to uncensored science education in the public schools.” Liberals, he advises, should be as discreet regarding the Broncos QB as the Jyllands-Posten wasn’t regarding Muhammad, prophet of Islam.

Unlike the Islamists, Tebow is the Abou ben Adam of faith, one who manifestly loves his fellow man as part of his faith in God.  No one who respects Tebow is going to use violence as a means of expressing that support.

There are others like Tebow — Marine Lance Corporal Donald Hogan, for example, who earned was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross — who have this abiding love for mankind.  What they lack, however, is Tebow’s prominence.  There are too many heroes whose work is done in the quiet and the dark.  Tebow brings their ethos into the light.

LCPL Donald Hogan

I don’t care that Tebow is a somewhat ungainly quarterback.  As a parent, and as someone who has watched our pop culture decay for too many years, I care deeply that Tebow is almost perfect in the areas that matter.  He is a gift to our culture, and I hope that as many people as possible appreciate this gift.

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  • MacG

    I believe it was Joe DiMaggio that when asked whether it was a pennant game or the last game of a losing season, he gave 100%.  “Because some 10 year old might be watching”.  Contrast that with many of today’s headline grabbing “Man, I ain’t no role model! I din’t sign up for that $#%!” athletes and Tebow is refreshing.
    May he play long and safe as he applies the biblical mandate to not let the world press him into its mold and lives out 1 Corinthians 13:1ff (and following)  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.
     Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
     Love never fails.”

  • dustoffmom

    Shoot…forget Tebow!  (Although like you I am a real admirer of the young man)  Tell me more about your dog and better yet, post a picture!  He/she sounds a great deal like my mutt Andi and I am a real sucker for the mutts of the world.  :)

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Book, Mike posted a link where a San Fron chron hack journie said some football players were beaten up after they won the game by 20 pts, because they were “tebowing”.

    The Left supports such violence. And they claim they are afraid of violence. Heh. If they were really afraid of violence, they would shut the hell up like they do about Islamic Jihad. 

  • Boxster

    Enjoyed the article, but have one point – one doesn’t “win” the Navy Cross.  A quibble, but an important one, I think.  It is awarded.  Rest in peace, LCPL Hogan, America is blessed to have such men.

    • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

      Boxter: You’re absolutely right. That was a pretty pathetic cognitive error. I’ll correct it immediately.

  • Oldflyer

    Book, I don’t see anything wrong with “earned’ the Navy Cross.
    I am trying hard to get my 15 year old twins, who are budding athletes, to focus on Tim Tebow as both an athletic and life role model.  Although I respect and admire his religious faith, there is a lot to be learned, even if you tune out that factor.  (Of course any sentient person must consider from whence his core is derived.) There is a lot of static in their lives, as is true of all young people today; but, I believe they are strong enough, and smart enough to push through it, and Tebow can be beacon to guide them.
    I have documented before that my wife and I are long time Timmy fans.  As former attendees of the U. of Florida (she actually graduated), we have been privileged to follow him for many years.  My respect for the young man only grows.

  • Libby

    One of the other great things about Tebow is the effect he has on his teammates. We’d see it week after week during the post-game interviews on the local Denver news stations, teammates like Champ Bailey were brimming with admiration for him . Bailey and others would explain that because of Tebow, the team knew that he, and they, would play the full 60 minutes of the game. It’s been an incredible testament to how one person can make all the difference. Tebow cannot be swapped out with Orton or Cutler or just any quarterback, because his attitude and work ethic is not only what makes him successful, it makes the team successful. And Tebow also proves the reverse – that obnoxious, prima donna players like Jay Cutler harm the team.
    With the press, It think it’s not so much that Tebow’s unabashed Christianity annoys them, it’s that the personality traits – humility, faith in himself despite the results of any game, etc. – that have contributed so much to his success. You can’t separate his faith from who he is, so you can’t appreciate his success without crediting his faith. Such a conundrum for these cynics.