Me Versus Tebow
By: Joshua Chamberlain
Posted: January 9, 2012
My guess is that Tim Tebow has gotten used to people comparing themselves to him. He has been the topic of an enormous amount of scrutiny since being a prized football recruit out of home/high school, scrutiny that has only grown in intensity since entering the NFL.
Most recently, two of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry, have compared themselves to him. When I saw those references, I shuddered a little. Since Bachmann has since dropped out of the race and Perry is trending at the bottom of the remaining candidates in terms of both electability and intelligence, my guess is that Tebow shuddered as well (though for different reasons).
The bottom line is that I just can’t wrap my mind around the Tebow phenomenon. So, in an effort to better understand his impact on our lives (and, hopefully, to separate myself from Bachmann and Perry), I will compare and contrast Tebow with yet another formidable opponent: myself. Let the battle begin.
Round 1: Football Ability
Tebow: I’m pretty impressed with how Tebow has played, especially in the most recent playoff game. Part of me wants to wait for more evidence because he hasn’t beaten a good team at full strength, but he did just win a playoff game. That can’t be denied.
Me: I watched the game on television while drinking a beer.
Round 2: Being Religious
Tebow: Grew up wanting to be an evangelical missionary and follow in the footsteps of his father, Bob Tebow, who has made it his life’s work to spread a very specific Christian gospel.
Me: Dropped out of Sunday school as quickly as humanly possible.
Round 3: Rationality
Tebow: The Tebow organization’s stated goal is to convert everyone in the Philippines to Christianity in the next few years. More specifically, they aim to convert the people away from their current form of Christianity (95% of the country is Catholic) to Tebow’s more extreme version. Apparently, that country isn’t Christian enough for the Tebows. They also preach against birth control in an already overpopulated country. Doesn’t seem rational to me.
Me: I am pro-birth control. It seems to me like the Tebow organization has two choices, given that people are not going to stop having sex: either give people access to cheap rubber child prevention or ask God to get rid of the excess people. I support the former.
Round 4: Likeability
Tebow: Tim has legions of adoring fans who view him as a football savior, a humanity savior, or both. Still, since most of these people don’t actually know Tebow, it could be argued that they only like the idea of him. Is he actually likeable? We don’t know.
Me: It is safe to say that very few people like the idea of me. I do not have legions of fans and have very little money to spread around. What that tells me is that the people who hang around with me actually like me rather than just wanting to bask in my afterglow.
Round 5: Fitness
Tebow: In better shape than most people. Looks good with his shirt off.
Me: Not in shape. Do not look good with my shirt off.
Round 6: Education
Tebow: Tim was homeschooled so his mother could instill the family’s uber-religious values on Tim as she taught him things like science. Ironic? Only if you look at it rationally.
Me: I learned actual science and was taught to care about other people and accept them for who they are rather than change them to fit my own views.
Round 7: Financial Success
Tebow: Tim is in the second year of a 5-year contract with $8.7 million guaranteed
Me: I am a teacher
Round 8: Trash Talk
Tebow: While it could be argued that Tebow’s “God bless you” response to those who trash talk him is brilliant, it is entirely dependent on A.) God existing and B.) The recipient of the line believing in God. Trash talk shouldn’t depend on such existential questions to be effective.
Me: I feel confident in my ability to trash talk, at least better than Tebow. You will have to take my word for it.
Tiebreaker: Positive Impact on the World
Tebow: The athletic ability and financial success are great, and Tebow should be proud of his accomplishments. He is still proving himself as an NFL quarterback, but we aren’t really talking about that right now. Even if he does end up succeeding in the long term, we must not confuse athletic success with success as a human being.
This is doubly true for someone like Tebow. As a society, we have been programmed to associate religion, specifically Christianity, with goodness. In Tebow’s case, even most religious people listen to him say “God Bless” and overlook the fact that as a missionary he works to supplant the very ideas they hold true with his own. Ever listen to a political candidate talk about gay marriage, for example, and think to yourself man, that guy is a bigot? Tebow shares that politican’s views. Fact.
Are you one of the people who think that Tebow’s religion should be off-limits to discourse? I think you should reconsider. Tebow makes his religious views very public on purpose. We absolutely must take his invitation and question those views, because those views, when they make their way into the political realm, are the source of repressive, regressive policy decisions that serve to make life worse for other people. Winning football games does not mean that his views don’t hurt people.
Me: I take my job as a teacher very seriously. Unlike Tebow, I do not preach that there is one single truth, as that would prevent humans from being empathetic and, well, human. Instead, I ask my students to put themselves in the shoes of the people standing across from them. I ask them to question what they read and hear and think about whether or not it makes sense. In short, I ask them to be good, rational human beings.
The beauty of it is that I am not alone. Most teachers worth their salt do next to no preaching and, not surprisingly, the students always seem to come to conclusions that would make the entire Tebow family cringe. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that Tebow didn’t engage in this type of discourse while being homeschooled. My lasting question: if Tebow’s parents are so convinced that their beliefs are the single truth, why did they choose to keep Tim sheltered from other ideas? Were they afraid that actual human interaction in the real world would change his mind? I am confused. Personally, I don’t think you need religion to know how to be a good person.
Edge: You decide. That’s the point with all of this, in the end. If I told you what to think, I wouldn’t be a very good teacher, would I? How very un-Tebow of me.