Friday, November 18, 2011

My Issue With Tim Tebow

(Other than, “Omigod, why is this idiot playing quarterback in the NFL?”)

Alcoholics Anonymous has a tradition of anonymity which has come to mean only “I will not tell anyone that you are in AA.” It always meant that in part, of course, but it also includes a concept which has largely been dropped of “I will not broadcast that I am in AA” as well, and the reason for that has to do with human fallibility. If a member of AA is making a big public deal of his participation and gets drunk, he does damage to the credibility of the organization, and weakens their ability to provide a solution for people with alcohol problems. He becomes an example that the AA program does not work.

Of course, it does work for many people, but by going public one risks becoming a “bad example” unless continued success can be guaranteed. Human nature being what it is, that can never be the case. The AA tradition of non-self-revelation does not apply on a personal level, merely at the level of “press, radio and film,” that is to say that while people do not hide that affiliation, they do not flaunt it either.

I believe that people of religious conviction should not flaunt that conviction for precisely the same reason. There certainly is no reason to hide such conviction, and I am not suggesting that anyone should do so, but making public display of it in all venues strikes me as risky, at best.

Tim Tebow attributes his faith to all sorts of success, but to what does he attribute the loss to the Detroit Lions? Were the Lions more powerful than Jesus that day? Does the fate of the entire Denver team depend on the ability of Tim Tebow to maintain some intangible "faith quotient” for each game? Giving credit for success is fine, but what happens when the success doesn’t continue?

How should we view Tim Tebow’s religion if Tebow exhibits human frailty and gets caught up is some moral scandal? He attributes his success to his faith and his Savior, to what would he attribute his failure? Or does he, perhaps, think that he is a person of such perfection that such failure is simply impossible? That concept seems more than a little bit arrogant, doesn’t it? Tebow is walking on the edge of a precipice here.

Philip Rivers, who is a better quarterback on his worst day than Tebow will ever be on his best day, is also a man of very deep religious conviction. He doesn’t hide that, but he keeps discussion of it in the realm of his private, personal life. He does not inject religion into the venue of the field of athletic endeavor. Instead he displays a charming humility, a quality which Tebow most profoundly lacks, and elevates his teammates and the coaches under whose direction he works.

As a result, not only do I have a greater respect for Philip Rivers as a football player and a person, but I have a greater respect for the depth of his religious conviction.

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