Perhaps I am the only sports fan — probably not, but I’m going for dramatic emphasis here —who has not formed a solid opinion on Tim Tebow and his surrounding hoopla. It’s time for me to sort out everything once and for all.
(Side note: I won’t hold it against you one little bit if you stop reading this column right now. I really don’t even want to keep writing it. I’ve had enough of him, too.)
Hoopla might not be the word I’m looking for. Whenever your following and media coverage gets a –mania label, you’re either doing something really right or really wrong — probably a little bit of both (see Hulk Hogan).
Sure enough, we are living in the age of Tebowmania. Cute name, yeah, but what does that even mean?
Well, it has something to do with: 1) Denver fans buying billboard space to plead coach John Fox to give him the starting job; 2) Tebow’s No. 15 jersey being the second-best selling replica in the league; 3) his topping an ESPN poll as America’s favorite athlete; 4) a squeaky-clean image based on hard work and religion; and 5) the media’s fascination with the über-popular quarterback turned cultural phenomenon.
That final item on the list is precisely the problem, as far as I can see (and look who’s exacerbating it now). Tebow has been force-fed to sports fans for the better part of the last five months. By now, a lot of us have upset stomachs.
There are plenty of people on both sides of Tebowmania. Tebow’s fans may like him because he just led the Broncos to the playoffs, or because he went to the University of Florida, or because he’s a well spoken athlete who really seems like he doesn’t care about the money, or because his religious convictions show strong morals.
Tebow invites people suffering in poor circumstances to each one of his games and personally meets them before and after the contest. He’s helped deliver babies in impoverished regions of the Philippines. He writes Scripture verses on his eye black and on his Twitter feed.
He just really seems like a great guy, and all accounts agree that he is everything as it appears. It’s all part of why I actually like Tebow. I like good people in sports, not just good athletes. Tebow qualifies as both.
It seems as though most of the detraction and the so-called hatred toward Tebow stems not from him, but from everybody’s opinions of him. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s what it has become.
Somebody with strong Christian beliefs like Tebow certainly has the capability to be a bit divisive. Statistically, most Americans (including myself) are Christians, but the strength of the religion that comes into play with Tebow seems to create awkwardness at times.
I’m pretty comfortable with my religion, but every time I hear a sports interview start with, “First off, I have to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” it just strikes me as odd. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I want to hear about the game-winning touchdown pass.
The religious aspect of Tebow probably accounts for some of the public disdain toward him, just as his too-good-to-be-true image likely does. Some people are turned off by a guy who seems to do everything right and in the spirit of unselfishness.
But the biggest reason why anti-Tebowmania has risen is the media’s disproportionate coverage of Tebow, especially in places where it does not belong. ESPN has unfortunately invented and exhausted countless angles of news, opinions, and predictions regarding Tebow. At some point, it becomes too much.
ESPN or ESPN2 is probably on my TV screen about 80 percent of the time, but I have found myself turning away from SportsCenter, NFL Live, First Take, SportsNation, and other shows because I can’t handle any more of the same. (This has since increased my viewership of shows like Match Game ’74, Pawn Stars, and Storage Wars.)
After every game this season, analysts stuck to their same opinions about how Tebow either can or can’t play quarterback before the analysts started yelling at each other. Then, the questions began.
Does John Elway support Tebow? Is Tebow or the defense winning these games? Can Tebow get better? How will Tebow affect the Super Bowl? Do you like Tebow’s hat? Did you see the 8-year-old kid Tebowing before his Pop Warner game? What instrument do you think Tebow can best play? Do you think Tebow will visit my cousin’s birthday party?
Enough is enough. But it wasn’t enough for most national sports media, which minimized other stories and other sports to invent Tebowmania. At its peak, one episode of SportsCenter in the week leading up to the Broncos-Patriots game mentioned Tebow’s name 160 times in 48 minutes. One hundred sixty times. One mention every 18 seconds. Good Lord.
Tebow has turned into an annoyance for many sports fans not located in Florida or Denver. In fairness, it’s not his fault. But golly, stop it. The media are ruining a nice guy.
There it is, I guess. I like Tim Tebow. I just wish everyone else would shut up.