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Tebowing vs. Ali Buffoonery   Take your pick

Posted on 26 December 2011, 16:23

A friend and I recently discussed the latest media craze called “Tebowing.”  For readers of this blog not familiar with the “Tebowing” phenomenon, if it can be called that, Tim Tebow is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos professional football team who makes it a point to go down on one knee with head bowed in a moment of prayerful thanks after a touchdown or victory, or perhaps even in thanks for the opportunity to learn from a defeat.  This genuflect is what the media is calling “Tebowing.”  In interviews, Tebow always begins by thanking “Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.” 

Ironically, my friend, an orthodox Christian though not of the evangelical type, frowns somewhat on Tebowing, while I, the non-orthodox person, favor it. In fact, Tebow has more or less renewed my interest in football, at least in watching games he plays in. I had for the most part lost interest in football because of end-zone dances and all the other flamboyance, showboating, and buffoonery, whatever name one wants to give to it.  It is a breath of fresh air to see an athlete who is seemingly not self-absorbed and who has values.

I can remember the days when athletes celebrated victory with a smile and an appreciative nod or with a tip of the cap.  Sandy Koufax, Floyd Patterson, and Joe Louis come to mind as athletes who knew how to win with modesty.  The change toward bombastic celebrations of victory began with Muhammad Ali and the emergence of television during the 1960s. Before then, there were very few ostentatious displays of ego.  As a sports fan since the 1940s, I can recall no surly displays of emotion, no menacing gestures, no pumping of the arm and fist, no pounding of the chest, no cupping of the ears and beckoning to the crowd for more applause, no punching the sky with a snarl on the person’s face, no shaking of the fist at the crowd, no idiotic end zone dances, no diatribe, before the 1960s. 

Apparently assuming that the viewing audience had the mindset of professional wrestling fans, the media bought into Ali’s buffoonery, thereby encouraging younger athletes to emulate him.  As I see it, Tebowing is the antithesis of Ali’s buffoonery.  It is an egoless display of thanks rather than an arrogant or pompous display of one’s “self-made” physical skills. 

Of course, there are those, like my friend, who feel that Tebow is overdoing it. They site a Bible passage in which Jesus says to beware of practicing piety before men and to not be like the Pharisees who pray openly on street corners.  (Matthew 6:5-6).  I can understand that point of view, and wish for a return of the Kofax and Patterson approach to it all, but, at the same time, if all our youth see on television is the self-absorbed buffoonery, what is going to inspire them to act otherwise than public displays of humility as in Tebowing?

My friend did say that he otherwise admires Tebow as a person and that if it were a matter of his daughter marrying Tim Tebow or some guy with tattoos all over his arms and neck while adorned in jewelry it would be no contest.   

For those who claim that “religion” has no place in sports, why do we have to call it religion?  Can’t it simply be called humility rather than religion?  If pomposity is allowed on television, why not humility? 

Next blog post:  January 10-11


Thanks for this! I think Matthew 10 shows a great example for Tebow as well as all of us. We are all sneinrs and we can’t change that. Quoting you,  No single human can be 100% evangelistic 100% of the time. We are all sinful by nature and we cannot change that. However, Christ paved a road of grace for us by paying the debt of our sins!  <  that is sooo true!!! it’s cool to think about this how Christ died for us, sneinrs. like really!? who would do that?!  well Jesus of course but still. but anyways, we should all be like Tebow in a way, and you’re right when you say “haters keep on hating” and thats completely true! I don’t know much on this subject but i think it’s cool what he’s doing. keep living for Christ Tebow! may you be an example to all. thanks Tanner ~Nick

Laura, Mon 15 Jul, 03:32

Good read. I’ve never seen an athlete as genuinely humble and in the present as Mariano Rivera, the great Yankee closer. Come to think of it, there just seem to be very few people walking the planet that flow like Rivera seems to, or who communicate such a reassuring inner peace. Showboating wouldn’t be anathema, though, to Rivera, it wouldn’t ever occur to him. If I had children who were involved in sports, I’d want them to observe how Rivera respects the game, his teammates and opponents, and how he generally treats people, which you can see when he’s interviewed.

john josepn, Thu 5 Jan, 07:36

Hi Michael.I agree entirely with you.Living in the UK I had never heard of Tim Tebow but he must be a very courageous man to not be afraid of publicly displaying his faith by the simple act of acknowledging his Lord in the way he does.More power to his elbow.Wouldn’t it be great if more athletes followed his example.Who knows what it could lead to?
On a personal note,I would like to thank you for the wonderful work you do in promoting the afterlife,I read all your blogs and your recent book ‘The Afterlife Revealed’is superb.Thanks again Mike and carry on the good work.

Ray Leigh.Bradford.England., Tue 3 Jan, 17:23

Mike, I totally agree with you. My father always said, we will do such and such a thing, “God-Willing” and if something good happened, he said “Thank God.”

If something not-so-good occurred, he would say, “So be it.”... Keeping in mind, as Spiritists, the Divine Law of Cause and Effect,
and that most everything (especially important events in our lives) has a just cause.
I continue with the same…

It has nothing to do with religious display, just spiritual reflection and acknowledgement of the Creator.

Yvonne Limoges, Tue 27 Dec, 05:42

I’m with you, Mike.  Tebow is refreshing.  He puts a good face on religion, not just Christianity.  The world needs more of this, not less.

Stafford Betty, Tue 27 Dec, 03:42

Interesting, Michael. Living in the Netherlands I never saw nor heard of this pious Tebow guy, so I can’t say anything about him. Thanking is always good, when it’s not ‘Thank you that you let my opponent lose’.It often strikes me as odd when people pray for the victory of their own team, making God some kind of arbiter with a prejudice.
Most likely He has other things on His mind..
As for the boasting and the rest you so aptly describe, there’s a marked difference, here at least, in which kind of sport. Soccer is war. But skating matches are one example of decent and often appreciative behaviour towards the opponent.
Maybe that will change too. Let’s hope not.

Loes Modderman, Tue 27 Dec, 02:12

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Facing the Final Choice by Michael Grosso – The editor of my first book suggested I call it The Final Choice (1985). I thought the title was overdramatic and a bit grandiose. I did in part write the book in response to what seemed like the growing threat of nuclear war. Read here
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