Let me begin this article by saying that I am absolutely not a Florida Gator fan! I was born and bred in the Red and Black family of the Bulldog Nation in Athens, Georgia. Go Dawgs! However, as much as I’m a fan of college football, there are some ties that run much deeper than the colors we wear on Saturdays. In a day and age where classless athletes are more concerned with how good they may appear on film and how amazing their celebration dance can be, it’s refreshing when the humble superstar ascends to the national platform. What’s even more refreshing is when the humble athlete gives glory to the One who gave him or her the talent to start with.
Anyone that knows me knows that my favorite football player of all time is Herschel Walker. Not only was he the most dominant and greatest college football player of all time, but he was one of the most humble as well. He’d run completely over you, then help you up, and then hand the ball to the referee. He would not gloat over you, taunt you, or exalt himself, as 95% of the players do today. He set numerous NCAA, SEC, and UGA records back when the season was still only 11 games. He also only played three years, not four. If a child must look up to an athlete, his example was one to be followed.
As is the case with most records, Hershel’s career touchdown record finally fell a couple of years ago. It fell to the hands of a Bulldog nemesis: a Florida Gator! Granted, it took many more games and another season, but it fell nonetheless. The young man’s name that accomplished the feat was Tim Tebow. Tim was a tremendous college football player, but more than that, he used the national platform given to him to glorify Jesus and set an example to other Believers out there.
He was not, and is not, the only prominent athlete to take a stand for His faith. There have been many in the past, though most simply do not get the press time that Tim does. His future as an NFL quarterback is questionable due to his style of play. Since getting into the league a year ago, many outspoken sports figures have been waiting patiently for his failure. With each incomplete pass, interception, and bad game, the haters raise their voices. He has become a daily topic of conversation on ESPN and other sports m
edia outlets. Players have even gotten to the point of mocking both he and his faith. Last week a player tackled Tim and then knelt into a prayer stance as a mocking celebration.
Why such hatred? It’s simple; because Tim is unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it has made many uncomfortable because of it. Many sports writers and commentators have brought up great points that I agree with. Some have suggested that his way of life is simply a standard that makes the others that mock him look bad. Therefore they exalt themselves in order to bring Tim, and the Christianity he represents, down. The funny thing is, he does not boast, nor carry a Bible around condemning anyone. He simply handles himself with class and unashamedly thanks Jesus Christ for his talent.
One writer said a few days ago that if someone had mocked a player that happened to be a devout Muslim with the same sarcastic prayer pose, there likely would have been fines from the league, multiple apologies, and unending public outcries. Yet, here we are supposedly living in a Christian nation, where the outspoken Christian deals with verbal persecution and mockery on a daily basis. What’s wrong with this picture?
Roughly 76% of the United States claim to be Christians. Certainly we don’t see fruit from 76% of our population, but that many identify themselves as holding to the beliefs of the Bible. If there really is that many of us, then why do the 24% seem to always make more noise? Why do those who handle themselves with class and with the love of Jesus seem as if they are in a very, very small minority? The bible plainly addresses skewed statistics such as these in Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8, Mark 7:6, and II Timothy 3: 5. I encourage anyone to read them all in context.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more than a statistic. My deepest desire is that I can be a walking testimony of the hope and promise of God’s Word, regardless of public opinion. I don’t know if Tim Tebow will make it as an NFL player, but I sure root for him each and every Sunday. If he fails as a player, he’ll surely win in eternity, and his example will point others in the right direction as well. Which direction are you point people towards today?