Tim Tebow Phenomenon

Last week, ESPN declared that Tim Tebow is the most popular athlete in America. Following his 80-yard touchdown pass that won a playoff game for the Denver Broncos, Twitter exploded with 9,420 tweets about Tebow per second! I cannot remember an athlete in a team sport capturing the imagination and attention of this country like Tim Tebow has done, particularly when despite his many last minute on-the-field heroics, the consensus is that he is a mediocre quarterback at best.

I have to admit that I’ve had my doubts about Tim Tebow. I must confess right up front that I am not a big fan of Florida sports teams. I grew up in Big Ten country and for a number of years, schools from Florida have been very successful against schools from the Midwest. Since Tim Tebow attended the University of Florida, he was not my favorite collegiate athlete.

In addition, I tend to be uncomfortable with the precarious mix of sports and religion. I’m not a big fan of the guy in the stands with the huge John 3:16 sign—primarily because I think people tend to react negatively rather than positively to it. I’m not a big fan of athletes declaring after games that God helped them win or even that God gave them strength to be able to win. I honestly don’t think God is interested in who wins the Super Bowl, the BCS championship or the World Series.

Recently, Rick Reilly began an article on ESPN.com about Tim Tebow: I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow, but not for what he does on a football field, which is still three parts Dr. Jekyll and two parts Mr. Hyde. No, I’ve come to believe in Tim Tebow for what he does off a football field, which is represent the best parts of us, the parts I want to be and so rarely am. The rest of the article describes the selflessness of Tim Tebow.

In a world in which athletes are prima donnas, Tim Tebow is a selfless breath of fresh air. He is generous with his money, his time and his life. He is very competitive, but it seems clear that he is more interested in helping people in need than in winning championships. He works hard and has taken a beating—on the field and off—yet, instead of circling the wagons, he sticks to his routine of hosting people in need at every game, paying all of their expenses while they are there and spending a lot of time with them before they return to their home (all expenses paid by Tim Tebow).

Tim Tebow is a self-declared evangelical Christian. I am convinced that he is—not because he believes the right things or because he says the right things, but because he exudes the selfless and sacrificial love of Jesus to people who are vulnerable and needy. I wonder, were I in his position would I give my time and money for others?