Finally, a role model worth the press

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm not a loyal follower of college football but I happen to live with a few people of the male persuasion who are. So I guess, by osmosis, I've learned that ACC, SEC, and Pac-10 all have something to do with the subject. Beyond that I'm clueless.

During last year's national championship game, the camera was all over the Florida Gator's quarterback. Being that we are Florida State fans, (sorry all you Gators out there) I was kind of bugged that they kept making a big deal out of this guy. I heard the announcers mention his Heisman trophy nomination and I figured he was another candidate who would get drafted in the first round, not live up to his potential--or get injured-- never to be heard from again. But then I noticed the black smudges under his eyes. They weren't the typical marks that most players paint on to deflect the sunlight. This kid had some words and numbers on his that I couldn't quite make out on the TV screen. I asked my hubby about it and learned it was the bible verse Phillipians 4:13 which reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Now that takes some "you- know-whats" to write Scripture on your face for the entire nation to see. (Pun intended.) I longed to know more about this guy.

In the past week, three different stories on Tim Tebow have made their way into our house. I learned very quickly that this is a young man who "walks his talk". The first article was a newspaper clipping Mimi sent to the boys from the front page of the Florida Times-Union sports' section. Here's an excerpt:

Needless to say, the attention just intensified when Tebow arrived, with seemingly no topic off limits. During a radio interview Thursday, Tebow was asked whether he's waiting until marriage to have sex, to which he responded, "Yes, I am."
When another reporter couldn't find the right words for a follow-up, Tebow interjected, "I think you're stunned right now. You can't even ask a question. ... I was ready for that question, but I don't think y'all were."
I love it!

The next day, Ian's Sports Illustrated Kids arrived with none other than Mr. Tebow gracing the front cover. The magazine's center pages focused on the quarterback's two national championship titles and a brief mention about his faith. I was hoping for a little more depth but I had to remind myself that the readership only spans the ages of 8 to 12.

This afternoon, the boys and I were perusing through the "free magazine" section at our local library where they added last week's Sports Illustrated issue to the stack. Inside Quinn discovered a feature story titled: "You Gotta Love Tim Tebow". It must be killing these reporters that they can't find any dirt on this guy--and you know they've tried. SI's Austin Murphy focused on the work Tebow does off the football field. On the day Sports Illustrated followed him, this stellar young man was spending the evening at a prison on Lawtey, Florida. "It's one of my favorite things to do, Tebow said during the drive, making it sound as if he were bound for Disney World rather than this razor-wire-ribboned stalag 35 miles northeast of Gainesville. 'You're talking to guys who have no hope, no support, who have been totally written off by the world'." Is he for real??? Not only is this guy well-respected by his team but his lifetstyle of selflessness and compassion carries over to his coaches and fellow players. "Even as the football program has suffered an embarrassing string of arrests, the number of hours players devote to charitable causes has dramatically increased. 'Our community service hours are off the charts, says Meyer (a UF coach), who describes his quarterback's influence on the team as 'phenomenal'.......It had begun to prey on Meyer's conscience that he luxuriated on a cruise ship or sat on a beach while his starting quarterback spent his vacation working in a Filipino slum. Thus did the Meyer clan sign on for six days of servitude in the Dominican--and ended up loving it." Murphy interjected his own opinion into the middle of the story: "Having covered Tim for three years, I would say he's the most effective ambassador-warrior for his faith I've come across in 25 years at SI." You go, Tim!

OK, I'm sold. In a day when college sports players are becoming as unethical as their professional counterparts, it's easy to be jaded and cynical. Thank you, Tim Tebow, for giving hope to the next generation (and their parents) keeping their eyes on you. I'm glad that your eyes are looking above and beyond yourself.