Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tebow Time

Now that we live just outside of Denver, all of the hoopla surrounding Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is front and center in our lives at the moment. We have found ourselves getting caught up in the last-minute, miraculous come-from-behind wins, and in spite of us being rabid Patriots fans, we will happily cheer for and celebrate with the Broncos when they long as they aren't facing the Pats.

(As an aside, tonight is the big AFC Divisional round game Broncos vs. Pats, and so lest anyone wonder where our loyalties lie, tonight there will be no Tim, only Tom.)

But back to Tim for the moment. We have seen the strong division in opinions among the people in America with regard to him and his open display of prayer on the field. Some people love him for his overt Christian views and proclamations, some hate him for bringing his zealous religious views into football, and some even want him hurt or dead for so openly praising the god he believes in. It has been very interesting to witness this heated battle in the newspapers, on television, and all over Twitter and Facebook. But what I want to ask all of these incredibly vocal people is:

Why do you care?

Isn't your life fulfilling enough that you don't feel the need to spend your time hurling vitriol at people, making sure that your 100% correct opinion is known to everyone, and feeling that what a 24-year-old football player in Denver says in an interview is aimed specifically at you to be morally offensive?

First of all, it's a GAME people. Yes, football is extremely important to the American culture. And I realize that in today's society, successful sports players are often held up as examples of role models for young people because of their commitment, hard work, and camaraderie with their team. But we need to remember that these men and women aren't lawmakers, nor do they hold any position of power that can directly affect anyone's current way of life. They are not political dictators or government officials, or even personal advisors to any of us, so what they have to say has absolutely nothing to do with our daily lives or our collective well-being.

Secondly, it's not like someone outwardly proclaiming their religious beliefs is new to the world of sports. Does anyone remember Sammy Sosa crossing himself repeatedly every time he came up to bat? There were no public rants about how what he was doing was offensive to America's very makeup. Or how about Kurt Warner cutting interviews short to kneel down on the field with players from both teams for a post-game prayer? People just seemed to be very "live and let live" about that. And good old Sandy Koufax, who chose not to pitch in game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kippur. Sure, people weren't happy about it, but I doubt he received death threats.

Was the world more forgiving back then? Hard to say. What is true is that back then there were no 24-hour news networks constantly blasting the current controversies onto our many televisions in our living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms. There were no social networking sites where people could verbally vomit every thought and opinion they've ever had just to make sure their opinion was out there for any and all to see. There also seemed to be an overall respect for one another (civil rights notwithstanding unfortunately) at least in public, if not in private. But now it seems like anyone in the public eye is up for grabs, and the national pastime is to build people up only to publicly tear them down shortly afterwards. Sad, mean, bitter, but true.

So what do I think of the current Tebow controversy? As a Jew who has experienced more than her fair share of anti-semitism, and countless people telling me that I'm unworthy, subpar, and wrong for observing the faith I was raised in, I can see where people could be scared by intense convictions and vocal support of one religion over another. As someone who has had people try to convert me and convince me that hell is the only place for unenlightened, stupid, non-believing people like me, I can understand why any mention of religion in a non-religious setting could make people anxious and wary. But even though I can understand where people could be coming from in this instance, I don't agree with their intent to vehemently denounce someone who is merely stating his opinion seemingly without an ulterior motive.

In my opinion, when Tim Tebow thanks "Jesus his Lord and Savior" in an interview, it's no different from an Oscar winner saying, "I'd like to thank my parents for all of their help and support." In both cases they are thanking what they believed helped them in that situation. Wouldn't it be worse if people didn't thank anyone at all, but instead believed that all of their success came from how inherently awesome they were themselves? And above all, who cares who people thank for what? Can you imagine a CEO accepting an award and thanking both his wife and his mistress for their support? Weird and uncomfortable? Sure. Any of my business? NO!

And let's not forget, all of these sports figures that we lift up to be deities themselves, are just people who are going about living their lives day to day just like us. They raise families, they have hobbies, they take out the trash, and some of them also practice religion. Their sport is a big part of their lives, but it's not the only thing in their lives. Everything in all of our lives is intertwined, and to tell someone that they have to put one part of their life into a box and keep it separate from the other parts is ludicrous. Should a working mom forget that she has children while she's at the office? Should a doctor forget about his/her patients when they are not right in front of him/her? Should Sandy Koufax forget that it's Yom Kippur when it's also the first game of the World Series?

For me, I can watch a football game, enjoy all of the excitement, listen with half an ear to the post-game interviews, and then go on with my happy, busy, fulfilling life. It doesn't affect me one way or another because I have plenty of other things going on that require my attention that actually have an effect on my life. I don't have the time or inclination to spout on about what I think about things (except of course in this blog - the irony is not lost on me there) nor do I feel the need to convince everyone else to agree with me because I feel that I am absolutely, unequivocally, and exclusively right. We we all have our differing opinions and we all have different issues and ways of thinking that we bring to every conversation and every situation. It's the compassion toward others' thinking that promotes peace and grace in our lives, and makes the world a pleasant place to be in our short time here.

Speaking of, I have things to do, so I will wrap up by saying: Stop reading someone else's opinion - go get a life!! ;)

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