WaPo sports columnist Sally Jenkins pondered a few days ago:
What is so threatening about Tebow? It can’t be his views. Tebow has
never once suggested God cares about football. Quite the opposite. It’s
Maher and company who stupidly suggest a Tebow touchdown scores one for
Evangelicals whereas an interception somehow chalks one up for atheism.
Anyone who listens to Tebow knows he doesn’t do Jesus talk, he’s mostly
show and no tell. His idea of proselytizing is to tweet an abbreviated
Bible citation. Mark 8:36. He leaves it up to you whether to look it up.
When he takes a knee, it’s perfectly obvious that it’s an expression of
humility. He’s crediting his perceived source, telling himself, don’t
forget where you came from. On the whole, it’s more restrained than most
Jenkins’ answer is that people are uncomfortable with Tebow emphasizing “the aspect of his talent that is given, not earned”–i.e. the religious aspect.
I don’t think so. What bothers people about Tebow is that he takes the opportunity of having a semi-captive general audience to witness for his faith. Of course, that’s what evangelicals are supposed to do, and I’m willing to stipulate that Bill Maher et al. are jerks for getting so bent out of shape about it.
But Tebow knows exactly what he’s doing when he takes a knee on the field. And as for tweeting Bible citations, a student of mine who’s been following Tebow’s Twitter feed for months notes that not until football season started did the messages turn religious.
No doubt, some folks freaked out a little at the seemingly miraculous string of victories that Denver managed to pull off earlier in the season. (My God, maybe it works!) But now that the team has lost three in a row, the hooplah can be seen for what it is: an evangelical kid doing his thing and a bunch of non-evangelicals not wanting to be subjected to it.